UCLA Wins a Thriller, One Victory from Title

Bruin Ace Megan Langenfeld goes from Heroto Goatto Hero


OKLAHOMA CITY – If the ability to shake off disappointment is the mark of a true champion, then UCLA’s ace Megan Langenfeld just set a new bar.

In last night’s opening game of the Women’s College World Series best-of-three finals, Langenfeld overcame a disappointing seventh inning in the circle to win the game by hitting a walk-off homer in overtime.

The game turned into a rock ‘em sock ‘em melee in the seventh inning. The Bruins had the Cats on the rope leading 4-2 at the top of the inning when Arredondo’s 2-run homer and Chamber’s solo shot propelled the Cats into the lead 5-4.

That led to Langenfeld’s departure from the mound.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, a fielding miscue and thrilling hit just over the outstretched glove of Bruin right fielder Buchanan allowed UCLA sophomore pinch-runner Marti Reed to score, tying the game at 5 and sending it into extra innings.

In the bottom of the eighth, Langenfeld’s walk-off homer won it. Arizona Coach Mike Candrea looked on in amazement as Langenfeld rounded the bases—perhaps rethinking his decision to not intentionally walk the slugger.

After the game, Langenfeld said she took advantage of the fact that Arizona’s freshman phenom Kenzie Fowler had been throwing strikes early in the count.

Langenfeld uniquely combines pitching talent with the ability to hit the long ball. Not only did she hit the game-winner, she also hit a home run in the first inning to get the Bruins rolling.

The finals continue tonight with game #2 at 7 PM CDT. Read more.


UCLA vs Arizona for 2010 Crown!

Pac-10 Powerhouses Find Themselves in Familiar Territory


OKLAHOMA CITY – This year the national championship of collegiate softball will belong to either UCLA or Arizona. If that sounds all too familiar, it’s because these two teams have completely dominated the NCAA Women’s College World Series since its inception—19 of 27 championships, to be exact.

At this point UCLA has to be the favorite, waltzing through the WCWS undefeated and scoring a team record 16 runs against Florida in their first game.

The Bruins disposed of the Georgia Bulldogs 5-2 today to move into the final.

Arizona took a more circuitous route, navigating through the Losers Bracket but making it to the finals nonetheless—and in dramatic fashion today against a tough Tennessee opponent.

Oh what a difference three days makes.

In the WCWS opener, the Lady Vols had clobbered the Cats 9-0 in a game shortened by the mercy rule. Today Arizona returned the favor, shutting out Tennessee by the nearly identical score of 8-0 in—you guessed it—five innings.

But Arizona would have to win one more game against the SEC powerhouse to move on to the finals. Although the game was more competitive, the Cats emerged on top 5-2.

So now it is down to perennial powerhouses UCLA & Arizona. The teams will meet tomorrow night at 7 PM CDT for game #1 of their best-of-three final series. Read more.


Final 4: UCLA, Arizona, Tennessee & Georgia

Two Pac-10 & Two SEC Teams Remain in Contention


OKLAHOMA CITY – Only four teams remain in the hunt for the NCAA national collegiate title at the Women's College World Series—and unfortunately TSC’s pick to win it all, Washington, is not among them.

The defending champs fell to Arizona yesterday in a hard-fought game 4-3 and were sent packing by virtue of their second loss in the double-elimination tournament.

The Arizona Wildcats then went on to defeat this year’s Cinderella team Hawaii 5-1, eliminating the Rainbow Wahine and earning the right to face Tennessee today at 2:30 CDT.

Meanwhile Georgia knocked out rival Florida 3-2. The Bulldogs will face UCLA today at noon.

That means two Pac-10 teams and two SEC teams remain at the 2010 Women’s College World Series. Read more.


Tennessee & Arizona Freshmen Face Off

Brat Pack Battle

By TSC Analyst/Contributor DANIEL URBAN

OKLAHOMA CITY – Conventional wisdom suggests that underclassmen pitchers do not lead their teams to titles. Whether it is a lack of technical development, lack of mental fortitude, or lack of leadership, no underclassman pitcher has taken her team to a WCWS trophy in recent memory.

But a new crop of freshman superstars are challenging that conventional wisdom.

Tennessee's Ivy Renfroe and Arizona's Kenzie Fowler are changing the rules before our eyes. Each of these two young ladies were in high school last worrying about SATs, and now each of them have lead their teams to the WCWS Final Four.

Renfroe is a Tennesse native who during the regular season pitched for a 31-4 record, 223.2 innings, 2.25 ERA, and 224 strikeouts. During the WCWS she has elevated her game to throw 12 innings and 16 strikeouts while only allowing 5 earned runs.

Tennessee is one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the tournament, largely because Renfroe has pitched superbly and kept runs off the board. Renfroe is showing title caliber poise.

Arizona's Kenzie Fowler hails from Oro Valley, Arizona and earned a 36-7 record, 264.2 innings, 1.35 ERA, and 348 strikeouts. Fowler is red hot in the WCWS tournament; she has thrown 17 innings, 26 strikeouts and only allowed 6 runs. She is playing her best ball of the season and may be able to ride her hot streak all the way to the trophy.

Not only are these two young ladies changing our expectations about the performance of underclassman pitchers, they are part of the democratization of softball. Both Fowler and Renfroe hail from non-California states.

After a decades long monopoly on top softball talent, the best players in the game are finally starting to sprout up east of the Olympic softball belt.

It is great to see young talent excel in Division I softball. I cannot wait for them to face off against one another today! Read more.


Langenfeld Assumes Ace Role for UCLA

Can She Carry Bruins to the NCAA Title?

By TSC Analyst/Contributor DANIEL URBAN

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senior Megan Langenfeld has pitched almost every single inning of UCLA's run from the Super Regionals to the WCWS. Langenfeld is a good pitcher, but UCLA's ace has been Donna Kerr all year. Why change now?

The circumstances lead me to believe that UCLA junior ace Donna Kerr must be injured.

All season Kerr was UCLA's #1 pitcher, and she put up very solid numbers. Kerr pitched 147 innings, went 18-7, posted a 2.37 ERA, and struck out 181 for a 1.23 strikeout-per-inning ratio. On top of that, UCLA went 43-11 in the regular season and placed 2nd in the Pac-10 to Washington.

Kerr was UCLA's go-to pitcher all year. The playoffs are an odd time to switch horses, but UCLA seems to have done precisely that.

Granted, Langenfeld has been a great pitcher this year too. During the regular season she pitched 101.1 innings, went 13-1, posted a 1.24 ERA and threw 68 strikeouts for a 0.67 strikeout-per-inning ratio. Langenfeld is not a strikeout power pitcher like Kerr, but she did put up a better ERA and winning percentage.

But if UCLA's manager was that impressed with Langenfeld's ERA and winning percentage, you would think she would have given her more innings during the regular season. UCLA's manager gave Kerr 9 more starts and 7 games worth of innings more than Langenfeld.

On top of that, strikeouts and strikeouts-per-inning are a better indicator of the value of a pitcher because the pitcher's performance alone accounts for strikeouts, whereas ERA and winning percentage are more dependent on the success of the rest of the team's players.

Given these circumstances I am willing to bet that Kerr is injured. But that may be a blessing in disguise, because Langenfeld is red hot. In two WCWS games she has pitched 12 innings while striking out 9 and only allowing two earned runs. Most importantly, the team is 2-0.

Langenfeld is still not putting up dominant strikeout pitcher numbers, but she is getting the job done.

Langenfeld is also her own run support. She was her team's #1 overall hitter this year and in two games of the WCWS has 6 hits, 1 home run, 4 runs and 4 RBI.

UCLA may have switched horses, but Langenfeld may be the horse UCLA should have hitched its wagon to all along. Read more.

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