June 7, 2010
The NBA was very pleased when the Lakers and Celtics both fought back to renew the most historic rivalry in the game.
NCAA softball may not have a history as deep as the NBA, but the sport can certainly boast an equally historic match-up in the Women's College World Series this season.
Softball won't be seeing an SEC appearance this year, but you don't get history in softball without the Pac-10. And to get the best, all you have to do is look for UCLA and Arizona.
Combined, the schools have won 18 (UCLA has the most all-time with 10) of the 27 national titles in the sport's history. The teams have met six times for the national championship, with Arizona taking four meetings (1991, 1993, 1997, 2001). UCLA's second championship, in 1995, was vacated due to recruiting violations. The Bruins also won the team's second meeting in 1992.
So if the Bruins have had an Achilles' heel in their dynastic softball reign, it has been Arizona.
It would appear that UCLA has the advantage this time around, with their torrid run in Oklahoma City. The Bruins crushed No. 4 Florida 16-3 before recording a pair of 5-2 victories over No. 16 Hawaii and No. 6 Georgia.
No. 10 Arizona dropped their opening-round game to No. 15 Tennessee 8-0, but much of that loss can be attributed to the eight illegal-pitch calls against Kenzie Fowler.
The Wildcats certainly proved that was the case by fighting through the losers' bracket, beating defending champion Washington along the way, to earn a rematch with Tennessee. The Wildcats returned the favor by recording 8-0 and 5-2 victories.
While the Wildcats showed their fight in battling through four games over the past two days, you have to think they are a little tired at this point in the game. Then again, when you have come this far, you only have to win two more to take home the national championship.
On the flip side, UCLA is well-rested, having played only three games total in Oklahoma City.
The Bruins have used that rest to absolutely bludgeon the opposition with the home run. UCLA set a Women's College World Series record eight home runs, breaking Georgia's record from last year (recorded in five games of work). UCLA has only played three games in setting that record, and still has two games to go.
Perhaps the best part about this match-up is that it will be the first three-game series between the two historic teams. The NCAA implemented the best-of-three format for the championship round in 2005.
My gut is leaning toward UCLA on this one, but you can't bet against the feisty Wildcats in this one. Especially since history has been on their side in this match-up.
In honor of the late John Wooden, I'm picking UCLA to win another national championship (and sticking with my pick from the end of my article after Day One of the WCWS ). I'll also say this one goes the full three.
Enjoy the show. It isn't often you get to enjoy such a historic battle.
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