Saturday, May 14, 2005

At least it's not raining

...but GOSH DARN is it early.

I bet Joe Buck doesn't put up with this.

[see if you can guess which part of this got edited!]

Boy Was I Wrong

So on Thursday I wrote that 9 am was an early wake-up. Ouch. Today's wake-up call came at the glorious hour of 6 am. As Greg's post indicates it's not raining though and we should have some softball action today.

Friday, May 13, 2005


After 3 1/2 hours of rain delay, the entire second round of the Big Ten Tournament has officially been postponed until tomorrow morning. As such, Northwestern's semifinal contest against third-seeded Iowa has been rescheduled to 8:00 AM CDT tomorrow, May 14, on WNUR, with our pregame show set to start at 7:45.

Should Northwestern defeat Iowa in this contest and advance to the Big Ten championship game, WNUR will also carry the title matchup, which is tentatively scheduled for a 12:00 PM start.

Unfortunately, rain is yet again in the forecast for tomorrow, so we may have to endure further delays -- please stay tuned to this space as well as for scheduling updates.

As always, WNUR will broadcast every pitch of every Northwestern game live -- it's just a question of when those pitches will actually happen.

Howard and I will be with you every step of the way, even those steps that involve carrying about 800 pounds of radio equipment through a rainstorm.

Rain Delay Theatre

We are currently under rain delay here in Ann Arbor, but fear not, softball fans, as NU/Iowa is now estimated to start at approximately 7:00 PM CDT. This is an approximate time and may differ by over 15 minutes in either direction, so please bear with us as we endeavor to get back on the air.

In rain delay news, Ann Arbor was deluged by an intense thunderstorm which deposited pea-sized hail throughout the area and dropped over an inch of rain. In the mean time, everyone retreated into the Oosterbaan Fieldhouse to engage in games of football, frisbee, and wiffleball. Unfortunately, the WNUR wiffleball team was defeated 3-0 in a three inning game by a combined NNN/Daily Northwestern squad -- but this does *not* count in the standings for the Jay Tant Memorial Trophy.

Stay tuned here and to WNUR over the air for further updates on this situation -- we will be bringing every pitch live, whenever they may occur.

Storm Fronts, Part Deux

As it stands, it appears as though the Northwestern/Iowa semifinal matchup will go ahead -- the nightmarish storm system is not supposed to arrive until later this evening. WNUR has been informed of a tentative starting time of 4:30 PM CDT, meaning that our pregame show will commence at approximately 4:15. Stay tuned to this space and for continued scheduling updates -- we will cover the game to its completion, whenever that may occur.

Storm Fronts

It appears as though Ann Arbor is about to be pounded by heavy rainstorm involving, lighting, hail and even a tornado possibility. Stay tuned for further scheduling updates.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Wildcats Advance

The Northwestern Wildcats advance to the semi-finals of the Big Ten Tournament beating Purdue, Thursday by a score of 2-0.

Kristin Amegin led the way for the Wildcats as she had both RBI’s in the game. She got things started for the ‘Cats with a solo homerun in the bottom of the second inning, then provided the insurance run on a two out single to left in the fifth.

The two runs were more than enough for Courtnay Foster who tossed the complete game shutout allowing only four hits, striking out seven and giving up just one walk.

Purdue was unable to mount much of a threat throughout the entire game as no Boilermaker advanced past second base. Purdue now has not scored a run in 24 consecutive innings against Northwestern.

Offensively, Stephanie Churchwell continued setting the plate at the top of the lineup going 2-3 on the day. Sheila McCorkle as well turned in a 2-3 performance, as did Amegin.

Amegin’s solo-shot gives her the NU single season homerun record at 13. Her RBI in the fifth came with two outs and two runners on. Churchwell reached base on a leadoff single, advanced to second on a sacrifice and third on a passed ball. She was then thrown out at home trying to score on a Garland Cooper grounder to third. Jamie Dotson then walked to advance Cooper to second, following which came Amegin’s hit. Dotson was thrown out trying to advance to third on the play to end the inning.

Earlier in the day several Wildcats received post-season honors. At the top of the list was Garland Cooper taking home the Big Ten Player of the Year award. Head Coach Kate Drohan also was named Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year with Michigan’s Carol Hutchins. Cooper, Stephanie Churchwell, Erin Mobley and Courtnay Foster were named First Team All-Big Ten selections. Jamie Dotson and Eileen Canney receiver second team accolades.

The ‘Cats will be back in action Friday as they take on the winner of the Iowa-Penn St game. Northwestern won all its games against those opponents beating Iowa 11-1 and 2-0 and taking down Penn St 3-0 and 2-1.

Friday’s game is scheduled to begin at 4 pm CDT.

The right foot

Apparently our presence on the bus didn't act as a hex on the team. Who knew?

Today's contest (a 2-0 NU victory over Purdue) proved one thing: pitching wins tournaments. Purdue hasn't scored a run against Northwestern in about 3500 straight innings and they never seriously threatened today, managing only four hits against Courtnay Foster.

Sure, the Wildcats could have done more on offense, but a W is a W, as they say, and after opening the last two Big Ten Tournaments with 18- and 11-inning contests, it must have been nice just to get one out of the way.

Earlier in the day, Howard and I sat at the Olive Garden, watching the team eat from what amounted to the kids' table across the room (long story). As I commented yesterday, the atmosphere was incredibly relaxed, and this carried through to the game. There's no better combination than to be relaxed during a game while simultaneously taking it seriously -- well, no combination since some genius came up with a shot and a beer, anyway.

Tomorrow it's either Iowa or Penn State, against whom NU achieved an impressive 4-0 record this season. Iowa lives for this tournament, but on the flip side Northwestern is pretty good, so we ought to see a fine game. Assuming, of course, that the mighty winds do not come and blow down our construction trailer/broadcast facility, or that the rains do not cancel any or all of the four games on the schedule.

You wonder how teams can play this schedule with midterms and the like, until you realize that everyone but NU is out of school already and is enjoying their summer vacation. That's fine, though, 'cause we get them back in the fall by playing football games in front of an empty stadium. Suck on that, Michigan.

As your loyal correspondents prepare to take our evening meal, we assure you that we'll be back tomorrow -- or whenever the game may be held -- with the tournament semifinals, live on WNUR.

Even if we have to do it from the kids' table.

Until then, I am outie 5000; take it sleazy.

Superstition ain't the way

So apparently the recent Daily Northwestern softball article dealt with the superstitions followed by the softball team, which is all well and good. After all, there's no sport more devoted to superstition than baseball/softball, since the games are so regimented and rules-oriented.

The players like to keep the same seats on the bus, which I suppose makes sense -- with the performance they turned in this season, something was obviously going right. But the article goes on to paraphrase the head coach: "Drohan said the WNUR play-by-play announcers who ride with the team make keeping the normal order more difficult."

Well that's true. We did cause quite a ruckus -- first, we were accused of stealing Caryl Drohan's keys; second, we were questioned for conversing in "hushed tones;" third, we ripped the hell out of The Long Kiss Goodnight, which at least one player had to like or we wouldn't have watched it.

But that was all in good fun. You'd think from this article that we had an army of sixteen broadcasters along -- well, softball fans, there's only two of us.

I promise that no superstitions are being violated. If they are, we'll rent a car. Honest.

After all, as Stevie Wonder said, when you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer.

Early Wake-Up

Ugghh, 9 am is in early wake up. But if its for the Big Ten Tournament, I'll do it.

Why waking up at 9 for a 5 o clock (local time) game is necessary, well I'm really not sure.

Greg and I spent the morning browsing the nearby Sears only to learn what great secret was hidden within - a full mall! Then the window shopping began. Brookstone, American Eagle, Borders, you name it we shopped its window.

In more related matters, we've noticed many other teams staying at our same hotel. They are the Iowa softball team, as well as Hawaii and Stanford who are in town for the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship. We'll keep track of other teams we notice.

That's about it for now. The game's only four hours away and we're certainly starting to get excited.

Travel Day Stampede!

If there’s something better than riding a bus through Michigan watching Geena Davis turn in one of the greatest acting performances in history, I’d like to know what it is.

Well, besides that. Obviously that’s better.

I’m quite impressed by the attitude around this softball team. Sure, as working media we regularly cover the team, but it’s only in the postseason that we join them on the bus – and it’s amazing how relaxed the team appears heading into a do-or-die tournament.

Our presence also gives them a scapegoat – I certainly don’t know who’s joking and who isn’t.

Since this is a blog, I feel compelled to whine about my personal life. After consuming several “alternative” beverages on Tuesday night, I spent the 3 AM hour in the quarters of a colleague desperately seeking advice on the pursuit of a certain – what do you mean, talk about softball?

It’s surprising how familiar this all seems. For the second year in a row, I’m in Ann Arbor for the Big Ten Tournament and watching playoff basketball on TNT in the hotel room. For the second year in a row, we’re expecting thunderstorms during all three days of the tournament and wiffleball games in the UM fieldhouse. For the second year in a row I’m submitting senseless, rambling internet columns.

Why don’t we do this for football? Oh, right: this trip is actually interesting.

I have to say, the shrimp and pasta alfredo at Chili’s is magnificent. Not as good as that you’d get at a seafood restaurant, of course, but you can’t win ‘em all.

Choice: Family Guy, The Daily Show, or the Late Show with David Letterman? Harder than it sounds.

Anyway, I’ve run out of topics. We’ll be back tomorrow pending the outcome of the Purdue game.

Rain delay, ahoy!

Ann Arbor Arrival

Well, we’re here in glorious Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Big Ten Tournament. After sitting through a 4 and a half hour bus ride, which included a screening of The Long Kiss Goodnight, we’ve checked into our hotel for the next few days.

There seems to be a little Déjà vu occurring for the team, as this is their second consecutive weekend in Ann Arbor. We ate dinner at the same exact Chiles they did last week. Some jokes were made that no one could have the same meal as last time considering the results.

The feeling is very odd being in Ann Arbor after coming so close to hosting the tournament in Evanston. Obviously with one win over Michigan last weekend things would have been different. However, this hasn’t seemed to affect the team in any way, as everyone remains in high spirits. (And how couldn’t you be in high spirits after watching Samuel L. Jackson’s performance in Kiss Goodnight.)

Let’s take some time to review the format of the tournament. The days of double-elimination are no more for the Big Ten as the conference made the switch to single-elimination last year. This has had multiple effects. The tournament expanded from six teams to eight to accommodate this change and the scheduling has changed significantly. The 1-8 and 2-7 games are the only games played on Thursday. Friday morning, the first round continues with the 3-6 and 4-5 contests. Then the winners face off that afternoon. This gives the top two seeds, Northwestern and Michigan, the advantage of only having to play one game on Friday – if they get there.

The single elimination switch has also placed added pressure on each game. Teams can no longer have an off day and come back to win the tournament. Everyone must play at their best all the time, creating some great softball as well as major upsets. In last year’s tournament, 8-seeded Michigan State took down top ranked Michigan in the first round, and then continued to ride the success of star pitcher Jessica Beech all the way to the championship. In single elimination all it takes is for one pitcher to get hot and carry her team from then on. With Northwestern’s pocket aces of Courtnay Foster and Eileen Canney, look for this scenario to be a plus for the ‘Cats.

Looming over the entire tournament is the number one team in the nation Michigan Wolverines. They are the favorite to take home the championship and proved it’s not going to be easy for anyone to unseat them last weekend taking down NU in back-to-back games. However, the ‘Cats are itching to get another shot at the Wolverines feeling confident that they can finish the comeback they started last Sunday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Welcome to the debut of the WNUR Sports blog. This is intended to be a method of getting more frequent updates and news posted online especially during tournament times. We'll start things off this weekend with the Big Ten Softball tournament in Ann Arbor, Mi. Greg Bobak and myself get underway on the trip in just about an hour. Check back here for updates regularly.