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#pounditMonday, January 17, 2022

Softball

Video: Kelsey Stewart hits walk-off home run to beat Japan

Kelsey Stewart walk-off

The US national softball team finished pool play undefeated at the 2020 Summer Olympics thanks to a walk-off home run by Kelsey Stewart on Monday in Yokohama, Japan.

The US was facing Japan with the game tied at one in the bottom of the seventh. Stewart was leading off the inning against Japanese pitcher Yamato Fujita. Stewart pulled a first-pitch changeup foul to go down 0-1. Fujita then tried to go inside with the 0-1 pitch, but Stewart turned on it and sent it over the right field wall for a walk-off home run.

What a shot by the former Florida Gator!

That was the US’ second walk-off win in pool play, as they also had one to beat Australia. Team USA went 5-0 in pool play and will rematch with Japan in the gold medal game. The Japanese squad went 4-1.

The US team started No. 3 pitcher Ally Carda in the game. Co-ace Cat Osterman relieved Carda in the sixth. Ace Monica Abbott pitched a scoreless seventh and got credit with the win.

Either Abbott or Osterman is likely to be in the circle when the team’s rematch in the gold medal game. Ace Yukiko Ueno will likely start for Japan.

Softball at Olympics gets shaft playing on baseball field

Softball Olympics Japan

Some sporting events are already underway at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. Softball kicked off the Olympics, with women’s soccer also seeing action.

One thing that stood out immediately when watching the first softball games was the venue. The first few days of softball events are taking place at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. As the name implies, the stadium is a baseball stadium. It’s a turf baseball field, with baseball dimensions, and designed for baseball. But many of the Olympics softball games are taking place there.

That means there are temporary fences surrounding the middle of the foul territory and outfield to designate limits of the softball field. There is a dirt rectangle in front of the baseball pitcher’s mound for softball pitchers. The softball basepaths are located within the baseball basepaths.

All around, it looks very cheap, especially considering this is supposed to be the highest level of softball in the world. There is no doubt that if treated properly, softball should have its own venue, tailored specifically to its dimensions rather than built within a baseball field.

So what’s going on? Well, as you probably guessed, this is a cost-saving measure. NBC Sports’ softball announcers said that baseball and softball agreed to share the venue as part of an effort to get back into the Olympics. This is the first year softball and baseball are back in the Olympics since 2008.

Fans who enjoy softball are likely miffed over the shared stadium, but probably recognize that is better than not having the sport in the Olympics at all. Baseball and softball will not be played at the Olympics in 2024. They decided it was more important to have break dancing and wall climbing.

Video: Washington Softball walks out in protest of NCAA Tournament seeding

Washington Softball

Washington’s softball team was not at all happy with their seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

Sunday marked the NCAA Tournament selection show for softball. The Huskies went 41-11 in the regular season, finished second in the extremely difficult Pac-12 at 18-5, but got seeded No. 16. That puts them in line to visit No. 1 Oklahoma in the Super Regional should both schools advance.

Take a look at Washington’s reaction to their seeding:

Yeah, they were not happy.

Despite their strong Pac-12 record, Washington was actually ranked No. 16 in the RPI. However, Arizona and Arizona State both were seeded higher in the NCAA Tournament despite having worse overall and conference records. Washington was also No. 5 in the latest coaches poll.

Oregon got snubbed even more. Despite finishing third in the Pac-12 and No. 15 in the RPI, the Ducks did not even get a top 16 seed. They will have to visit their former coach Mike White in the Texas regional. It’s hard not to wonder whether the state of Oregon’s restrictive fan policy played a role in the snub as a possible regional host.

UCLA’s coach Kelly Inouye-Perez says she couldn’t believe how the Pac-12 was snubbed.

Kentucky, meanwhile, got to host a regional as the No. 14 seed. The Wildcats were only No. 18 in the RPI and finished tied for fifth in the tough and deep SEC.

The tournament did Washington no favors. But the Huskies do have one of the best pitchers in the country in Gabbie Plain. If she handles most of the innings in the postseason and is on top of her game, the Huskies will be able to compete with anybody, including Oklahoma.

Tag savant Javy Baez appreciated this softball player’s great tag

Javy Baez

Javy Baez is known for his amazing skills with tagging out players on the bases, and he appreciated a great tag applied by a softball player recently.

Florida State beat Memphis 3-2 on Saturday. The Tigers had runner Sam Ibison on first in the top of the third inning. She attempted to steal second and the throw went in high. FSU shortstop Josie Muffley jumped to make the catch then reached down to tag Ibison between her legs in an amazing show of athleticism.

Though Muffley applied the tag before Ibison reached the bag, Ibison actually was ruled safe. That didn’t stop the play from going viral or earning recognition from Baez.

How does that play compare to this no-look tag from Baez? Both were awesome.

Photo: Arturo Pardavila III/Flickr via cc-by-sa 2.0

Jordan Roberts may have just hit the farthest home run in softball history

Jordan Roberts home run

Jordan Roberts may have hit the farthest home run in fastpitch softball history.

Roberts was playing on “Team Osterman” as part of the innovative Athletes Unlimited Softball season. She was facing fellow former Florida Gator Kelly Barnhill in the bottom of the fourth inning on Monday night and launched a homer.

Take a look at this massive blast from Roberts.

What’s the old saying? Anything that travels that far oughta have a flight attendant on it.

Roberts was teammates with Barnhill at Florida, but she sure treated the pitcher rudely with that homer.

In four years with the Gators, Roberts had 27 home runs. None probably traveled that far.

Oklahoma softball coach concerned about consequences if there is no college football

Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso is concerned about the possible domino effect in the case that there is no college football in the next academic year.

Gasso has won four championships at Oklahoma, and her Sooners are one of the most dominant teams in college softball. Her team was 20-4 before this season got canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But she fears the team’s 2021 season could also be canceled if no college football is played.

“If there’s a way to play football but maybe it doesn’t start until March, no one better complain about that. No one,” Gasso told The Athletic’s Jason Kersey.

“We’ll just deal with it. If they’re playing during our spring season, who cares? Be happy! We’ve got to celebrate that! Because if they aren’t playing, then maybe we aren’t playing the next spring. I think we’ve got to understand reality, and that’s that football pays for all of us.”

Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy was widely criticized for his comments talking about the importance of playing the college football season when he cited the economic impact on the state. But Gasso’s comments are another example of the importance of college football.

Many college athletic departments lose money. That’s because the cost of participating in most sports (think the smaller ones like track, tennis, golf, volleyball, water polo) where you still have to pay coaches, staffs, and traveling costs for entire teams for a whole season are vast, while the revenue they generate is small. Football games can bring in over 50,000 fans (or double that in some cases) and often generate enough revenue to fund many other athletic programs that lose money.

In this article, you can see a chart of Alabama’s 2019 sports team revenue and expense reports. Only football and men’s basketball were profitable. The $25 million in profit generated by football covered the $22 million in losses incurred by 14 of the school’s other programs.

Oklahoma’s football team is extremely profitable, but it needs to cover the expenses of all the other teams in the department. You take that away and you’re talking about the school losing millions on every other sport that is played, which is why Gasso is concerned about seasons being canceled.

UCLA softball wins championship on walk-off hit to cap thrilling finish

UCLA softball

The UCLA Bruins on Tuesday night beat the Oklahoma Sooners 5-4 on a walk-off hit that capped a thrilling finish, delivering the school its 12th softball championship and 118th national title in all sports.

Sophomore Kinsley Washington dropped in an opposite field single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to drive in pinch runner Jacqui Prober from second, who scored on a spectacular slide around catcher Lynnsie Elam:

Washington, whose father James played football at UCLA and won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, was 2-for-4 in the game, a day after going 4-for-4 in the Bruins’ 16-3 win over the Sooners in the first of the best-of-3 series.

The Bruins had a chance to close out the game in the top of the inning. They had taken a 4-3 lead on a solo home run in the fifth by Brianna Tautalafua and carried that score into the top of the seventh. Redshirt junior pitcher Rachel Garcia, a two-time Player of the Year, got two outs to start the seventh and was an out away from the championship, but Oklahoma senior Shay Knighten smoked a 2-1 pitch over the left-center fence to tie the game:

Undeterred, Garcia got the next batter out to end the inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Taylor Pack led off with a single, was sacrificed over to second, and was thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice to give Oklahoma two outs. UCLA’s runner, Colleen Sullivan, advanced to second on a wild pitch. The Bruins pinch ran for Sullivan with Prober, who scored the winning run on Washington’s walk-off hit.

The season caps an excellent campaign for the Bruins, which finished the year 57-6. They entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 overall seed, behind only Oklahoma. The Bruins went 3-0 against Oklahoma on the season, beating the Sooners once in a non-conference game in February and twice to win the championship in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma entered the NCAA Tournament with just two losses. They finished the season 57-6, with half their losses coming to the Bruins.

This is UCLA’s first softball title since 2010. The school’s 12 national championships are the most in the sport.

Rachel Garcia pitches shutout, hits walk-off 3-run home run to send UCLA to championship

Rachel Garcia UCLA

Rachel Garcia showed on Sunday why she is the two-time Player of the Year in college softball.

Garcia pitched 10 scoreless innings and then hit a walk-off 3-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to send UCLA to the championship series with a 3-0 win over Washington in Oklahoma City.

Garcia pitched all 10 innings for the Bruins, striking out 16 and allowing eight hits and walking four. She threw 179 pitches in all, 112 of which were strikes. The homer was Garcia’s 10th of the year and gave her 53 RBIs on the season. Her 10 scoreless innings lowered her season ERA to an impressive 0.98, while the win made her a sparkling 27-1.

Washington lost to Arizona in their first game of the Women’s College World Series and needed to beat UCLA twice to advance to the championship series for the second straight year. They started Gabbie Plain, relieved her with Taran Alvelo, and then re-entered Plain after Alvelo allowed a single to lead off the bottom of the 10th. Plain got two outs immediately before allowing a single and then the walk-off shot to Garcia.

UCLA, which is in the championship series for the first time since winning it all in 2010, faces the team to emerge between Oklahoma and Alabama.

Garcia, who is a member of the national team, has been making headlines for years and was last mentioned by us for her incredible perfect game loss in high school.

Cincinnati Reds tweet support for bat-flipping OSU star Samantha Show

Samantha Show bat flip

The Cincinnati Reds sent a cool tweet of support to Oklahoma State softball star Samantha Show.

Show, who is the Cowgirls’ ace and best hitter, received attention for her bat flip after a home run in a 2-1 win over Florida at the Women’s College World Series on Thursday night.

The Reds learned of her bat flip and reached out with a tweet of support:

The tweet showed a photo of Derek Dietrich, who has been at the center of controversies this season for bat flipping and admiring his home runs.

Show appreciated the support from the Reds:

A big reason why Show transferred from Texas A&M to Oklahoma State was because she wanted to feel like she could be herself. Oklahoma State has more than allowed her to feel that way by embracing her bat-flipping side, and it’s led to Show slugging a school-record 20 home runs this season.

Watch: OSU star Samantha Show spikes bat after blasting home run

Samantha Show bat flip

Samantha Show may be introducing the baseball and softball worlds to a whole new home run celebration.

The Oklahoma State Cowgirls star did it all in her team’s 2-1 win over Florida in the Women’s College World Series on Thursday. She pitched a complete game and hit two home runs to beat the Gators in their opening round win.

After her second home run, which gave OSU a 2-1 lead in the sixth, she celebrated by spiking her bat:

That was pretty epic.

Show’s two solo home runs were Oklahoma State’s only two hits of the game off Gators ace Kelly Barnhill. The rest of the team went 0-for-20. Adding another element of drama, Barnhill had said before the game that she didn’t like it when hitters celebrate with bat flips.

On top of being Oklahoma State’s ace, Show is also their best hitter and has 20 home runs on the season. The Texas A&M transfer is carrying the Cowgirls this season.