Friday, May 9, 2008

Anything but "Soft"

This morning's post comes to you from the press box at Winthrop University's Terry Field, where I'm perched up high right now, watching Charleston Southern and Liberty play the first elimination game of this tournament.

Yes, it's the Big South Conference Softball Championship--and I have to tell you, this is really good stuff. "Softball" may conjur up images of the company picnic for some folks, but if you have had only limited contact with the collegiate game before now, give it a chance (you can watch every game of the tourney on The Big South EDGE--or if you're anywhere near Rock Hill, SC, drop on in for some fun right here).

The competition has been impressive. On day one, Birmingham-Southern, playing as an associate member of the Conference only for softball this season, notched a win in the morning's opening game (BSC 2-1 over Liberty, Panthers star pitcher Bethney Reynoldson pictured)--only to drop a close one to the top-seeded host team in the afternoon (Winthrop 3-2 over BSC, WU outfielder and Big South Player of the Year Lisa Kingsmore pictured). Also on the first day of games, Coastal began with a victory (CCU 3-1 over CSU, Lady Chants home run hitter Verity Long-Droppert pictured)--then fell at the hands of the second seed in a hard-fought ballgame (Radford 5-3 over CCU, Highlanders pitcher and Big South Pitcher of the Year Ashley Taylor pictured).

Those results set the stage for the Friday slate of games--with five contests scheduled before this day of competition is done! LU/CSU is in the second inning as I type this entry, BSC/CCU is next, and each of those games will knock one team out of the running in this double-elimination tournament. The 3pm game should be a doozie, as Winthrop and Radford square off. Those squads have been the elite of the Conference this season--the All-Conference team consists of ONLY WU/RU players! One of them has to take a loss in the afternoon game, and that team will play Friday's nightcap against the winner of the early evening game (itself a battle between the winners of the day's first two contests, with the loser getting knocked out). Once all those games have been decided, we'll have two teams left standing. They will meet Saturday to decide (in either one or two games as needed) who earns this season's Big South Conference Championship. That's a lot to keep up with--which is what brackets are for.

I mentioned the games are being video streamed (like every championship this season except golf)--and I'm calling the play-by-play for all the games not involving Liberty. LU has radio coverage for the Flames' match-ups, so Vincent Briedis has the call for those games (great job Vince!). Nic Bowman from the Conference staff has joined me to provide some color commentary on our broadcasts (and to keep my voice from giving out with so many games in such a short span). Getting the two of us in the booth leads to a few laughs, so you may want to check it out for a chuckle while you watch the ballgames.

When the competition wraps up this weekend, that will leave only baseball with Conference games remaining for 2007-08. The baseball championship games will run May 20-24 in Danville, VA.

Well, gotta go--time to get ready for the next game!!!

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