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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.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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