The Texas softball team will open its Women's College World Series run this evening at 6:00 PM against fifth-seeded Arizona State, and it should be a fantastic ballgame. We'll have a preview and open thread up in time for that one, but there are two games in Oklahoma City before the Lady Longhorns take the field.
First, at 11 AM CDT, the two party-crashers in this year's field square off. Eleventh-seeded Washington, which went into Columbia and swept Mizzou out of the tournament last weekend in a pair of tight games, will be the home team against 14th-seeded Nebraska. The Huskers' 43-13 record indicates they may have been slightly under-seeded, although they were probably dinged for playing in the generally weak Big Ten. They showed that was a mistake by taking two of three from third-seeded Oregon in Eugene last weekend; in fact, the Big Ten has two teams in the WCWS as Michigan will face OU tonight.
This year's WCWS has remarkable conference symmetry--the eight teams come from four conferences, with each conference represented by two teams. Washington and ASU from the Pac-12; Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12; Nebraska and Michigan from the Big Ten; and Florida and Tennessee, who play each other at 2:30 following the UW-NU game, from the SEC.
Speaking of that second game, Tennessee is used to playing conference-mates in this tournament: they punched their ticket to OKC by taking down Alabama in Knoxville at the Super Regional stage. Florida, the national number two seed, got here with a pair of one-run victories over a game UAB squad that had won the Louisville regional in an upset. The Gators took two of three at home against the Vols in the regular season on their way to an SEC title. One interesting thing to note is that, at 57-7 on the season, if UF were to get the three wins it needs to make the championship series it would have an incredible 60 wins on the season.
This is your open thread for these two opening-session games. We'll be back later with a look at the Texas side of the bracket and your evening open thread. Note that the OKC weather forecast calls for isolated thunderstorms today, so the schedule may get out of whack.