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NCAA Softball: Oklahoma heading to Super Regionals

Players of Washington Spirits on field/ JWS
Players of Washington Spirits on field/ JWS

The NCAA Softball Super Regionals are set. (Full bracket can be found here.)

Following the controversy that surrounded the regional site announcements — including eight SEC teams receiving hosting duties — the SEC saw seven teams advance while the Pac-12 has three teams remaining in the tournament. 

A breakdown of the matchups can be found below. 

No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 16 Washington

The number one seed in the country wasted no time taking care of business over the weekend. While the Sooners went down early against Wichita State, they came back in a big way, scoring eight in the second inning and then another 10 in the seventh in a 24-7 rout of the Shockers. They also tied the NCAA regional record with six home runs in one game. 

Washington, meanwhile, struggled against Michigan on Saturday, falling 2-1. Washington responded, taking down Michigan twice on Sunday, including coming back from being down 5-1 in Game 7 to exploding in the fourth inning and taking a 10-5 lead heading into the fifth. The score would stand as the Huskies advanced to face the Sooners in the Supers.

No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 14 Kentucky

The Crimson took swift care of Clemson, blanking them 5-0. Alabama didn’t allow a single run all weekend, as the Alabama pitchers recorded 44 strikeouts, breaking the record for the team’s most in regional play. 

Kentucky was in trouble heading into Sunday’s game against Notre Dame after dropping a game Saturday against the Irish. But the Wildcats responded in a big way, blanking Notre Dame in two straight games (7-0, 4-0) en route to a Super Regional appearance.

No. 8 Missouri vs. James Madison

Jordan Weber had a day Sunday, putting an exclamation point on Missouri’s statement weekend. The sophomore, who came five outs away from a no-hitter Friday, finished the job on Sunday in the Tigers’ 5-0 win over Iowa State and helped her team advance to the Super Regional. 

James Madison, meanwhile, got off to a slow start in Sunday’s game against Liberty. The Flames took the lead on a two-run home run to lead 3-1 after four innings. But the Dukes’ bats would respond, scoring five runs in the fifth. They would eventually win by a score of 8-5, extending their win streak to 27 and advancing to the Super Regional against Missouri. 

No. 6 Arkansas vs. No. 11 Arizona

Arkansas got the scoring started early in the first inning with two runs before Stanford responded with three of their own. Arkansas would do all of the scoring from that point on, with Linnie Malkin opening things up in the fifth inning with a three-run home run. The score would stand, as the Hogs took down the Cardinal 7-3 to advance to their second-ever Super Regional.

Arizona went down big in their final game against Ole Miss. Down by six runs, the Wildcats began to gradually claw back, scoring eight runs in the fifth to erase the deficit. Reyna Carranco would bring in the tying runs with a line-drive single to the right, and the Wildcats never looked back.

They would add on six more runs for a final score of 12-6.

No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 12 Texas

Oklahoma State took down Mississippi State in a big way, defeating the Bulldogs in a final score of 10-2. OSU’s Sydney Pennington etched her name in the history books, breaking the program’s all-time career home run record with her 36th bomb.

Texas almost went home Sunday after dropping their first game against Oregon 3-2. But they would respond in a big way in Game 7, blanking the Ducks 1-0 off of a Jordyn Whitaker RBI.

No. 7 LSU vs. No. 10 Florida State

After dropping the first game against Louisiana by a score of 2-0, the Tigers bounced back in Game 7. LSU took a 7-1 lead in the fifth off of a Georgia Clark 3-run home run, but the Ragin’ Cajuns wouldn’t go quietly, scoring four runs in the sixth at an attempted rally before falling by a final score of 8-5.

Florida State blanked UCF on Sunday by a score of 2-0 to advance to the Super Regionals. Pitcher Kathryn Sandercock led the way, giving up only one hit with one walk and eight strikeouts. Through 83 pitches, the ace recorded 58 strikes.

No. 4 Florida vs. Georgia

Florida had a perfect weekend, going 3-0 against USF and South Alabama, including a dominant 8-0 win during the final game against USF behind a no-hitter from Elizabeth Hightower. Florida’s offense exploded in the seventh, scoring six runs, including a grand slam from Sarah Longley that marked the first home run of her career.

Meanwhile in Athens, Georgia took advantage of their home field advantage to take down No. 13 Duke. Tied in the bottom of the sixth, Sydney Chambley would drive home the winning run for the Bulldogs for a final score of 10-9.

Back when the two teams met in April, Florida won the series against the Bulldogs, taking back-to-back series wins after dropping the opener. 

No. 2 UCLA vs. Virginia Tech

After going down 1-0 against Minnesota, the Bruins responded in a big way, with Kinsley Washington bringing in two to give UCLA control of the game.

The Bruins would hold out and win 2-1. 

In Tempe, Virginia Tech took down BYU in five innings on Saturday to advance to the Super Regionals for the second time in program history. With a final score of 11-3, the Hokies hit five home runs, tied for their second-most in a game all season.

Teams will now play in a best-of-three series for a spot in the College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Lilia Vu adds Meijer LPGA Classic to tour wins record

Lilia Vu won in her first tournament in two months. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lilia Vu won her fifth LPGA Tour event on Sunday, taking home the Meijer LPGA Classic title in her first tournament since March. 

The world No. 2 had been sidelined with a back injury, but returned with a vengeance. She began the day eight shots back of leader Grace Kim, and survived a three-hole playoff against Kim and former champion Lexi Thompson to take the title. 

“I think this is the most meaningful win,” said Vu, “because there was a time two months ago where I was just crying on the range not being sure if I would ever play a tournament again without pain.”

A two-time major champion, Vu hadn’t before won the Meijer LPGA Classic, but a birdie on the third playoff hole helped secure it. She’s now 2-for-3 in LPGA Tour playoffs. 

She said on Sunday that being unable to defend her title at the Chevron Championship was the “breaking point” in her season.

“Not being able to compete there really killed me,” she said. “I feel like I thought I was taking the steps in the right direction, but I’m glad that I was able to take a couple months off and reevaluate my body, let it recover, do what I needed to do to get back out here again.

“And we did the right thing and took two months off. I think it hurt me not to play competitive golf because I literally live for competitive golf, but we did the right thing and that’s why I’m here today.”

Top tennis players pull out of Olympics citing health reasons

Aryna Sabalenka will not play in the Olympics. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka joined a growing list of tennis stars opting out of the Olympics on Monday.

Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and world No. 3, told reporters in Berlin that she was looking after her health while citing WTA tournament participation requirements. The Belarusian had struggled with a stomach bug during the French Open, where she lost in the semifinals of a major for the first time since 2022. 

“Especially with all the struggles I was having last month, I feel like I need to take care of my health. … It’s too much with the scheduling,” Sabalenka said. “It’s just too much. I made the decision to take care of my health.”

Similarly, Jabeur cited the health risks that come with the change of surface. The world No. 10 has been battling knee injuries this season, and lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Coco Gauff. 

Players will spend the next few weeks playing on grass in the lead-up to Wimbledon, while the Olympics will be played at Roland-Garros and be held on clay. 

“After consulting with my medical team regarding attending the Olympics in Paris, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk and jeopardize the rest of my season,” Jabeur posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics. I have always loved representing my country in any competition, However, I must listen to my body and follow my medical team’s advice.”

The two join Emma Raducanu in opting out of the Olympics. Raducanu – who has dealt with a number of injuries since her US Open win in 2021 – cited the changing surface as “not worth the risk.”

Jaedyn Shaw Breaks NWSL Record for Most Goals Scored as a Teenager

Jaedyn Shaw of the san diego wave
Jaedyn Shaw is now holds the record for most NWSL goals as a teenager. (Julia Kapros-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaedyn Shaw continues to make NWSL history, surpassing Trinity Rodman for the most NWSL goals by a teenager on Saturday. 

She did it in a game against Rodman's Washington Spirit in the 20th minute of the 1-1 draw. It brings her total to 13 league goals, after making her NWSL debut at 17 years old in July 2022. 

The goal is her third this season. Shaw currently leads Wave alongside Makenzy Doniak. 

Shaw has also been a member of the USWNT, alongside Rodman, netting seven goals over 14 national team appearances. If she gets called up to this summer’s Olympics under Emma Hayes, it will mark her first official tournament with the USWNT.

Seattle Reign Sells to Seattle Sounders, Private Equity Firm

seattle reign
The Seattle Reign have officially been sold. (Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Seattle Reign have officially been sold, with the OL Groupe selling the club to an ownership group that includes MLS’s Seattle Sounders and private equity firm the Carlyle Group.

The team was sold for a reported $58 million, after being acquired by OL Groupe in 2019 for $3.5 million.

"It's all about the potential going forward," Alex Popov of the Carlyle Groupe told ESPN. "And frankly, our starting point was off. You know, that's what attracted a lot of us to, including ourselves here at Carlyle, to think about investing in women's sport. We have seen the potential."

The valuation is the latest of rising numbers in the NWSL. San Diego Wave FC is in the process of a sale that values the team between $113 and $120 million

In the sale announcement, chief business officer of the Reign Maya Mendoza-Exstrom said that the team has no plans to move from Lumen Field. 

"It feels a little bit like we have the gritty startup mentality of an expansion franchise in this exciting moment, but we have this benefit of having a dedicated fan base that has been dedicated to this club, even though it has moved a ton and changed a ton over the last few years," she told ESPN. "So, I think the opportunity just to root this club in place — Lumen is our home. The club's not moving anywhere."

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