Sunday, June 03, 2007

Oh well...

Northwestern's season is over after falling to Tennessee 3-0 this afternoon. Abbott was dominant, and NU had no answer offensively.

Tune in tonight for a special 2-hour edition of the Sportsvoice from 7-9 Central on WNUR--live from Oklahoma City!

First Pitch Coming Up

Arizona just topped Washington 2-0 to force an if-necessary game this evening for a trip to the title series.

First pitch for NU-Tenn is set for about 2:45. Pregame is underway on 89.3 FM WNUR and

NU Lives to See Another Day

The 'Cats awake this morning on the heels of an offensive explosion and a dominant pitching performance by Eileen Canney in a 7-0 victory over Baylor on Elimination Saturday.

Now it's onto Sunday, where if the 'Cats can beat Monica Abbott and the Tennessee Volunteers twice, they will earn a second straight trip to the Championship Series. If they drop a game to the Volunteers, their season will be over.

It doesn't get much better than this, folks. Two great teams. Two great pitchers. Northwestern with their backs against the wall. Will Drohan have her team ready to pull off the impossible? Will Monica Abbott and her 683 strikeouts overwhelm the 'Cats? Will Purple Nation be celebrating again come Sunday night or will a disappointing 9-0 loss to Washington haunt NU throughout the offseason?

All these questions will be answered today on WNUR. Ray Garcia and Guy Benson get it all started with the pregame show at 1:45pm. If NU wins that game, they will play an if necessary game at either 5pm or 8pm, depending on the outcome of Washington-Arizona. Stay tuned to and for updates.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Judgment Day (Part I)

NU has had all day to wallow in last night's 9-0 loss; let's hope coach Drohan didn't give them the chance to do so. Dwelling on yesterday's awful debacle would be the worst possible thing for the 'Cats to do today. They have a new task at hand--defeat Baylor. The Bears walloped A&M 7-4 this afternoon, and they'll be riding high against Northwestern tonight. If the Wildcats can bounce back this evening, they'll need to defeat Monica Abbott and Tennessee twice tomorrow--a tall task, but one that NU first needs to earn.

Join us for an 8pm first pitch (approximately), with a 15 minute pregame show.

Also, yesterday's phrase that pays was "still no one out!"

Friday, June 01, 2007

Time to Regroup

A 9-0 loss is rare for NU...especially in such a big spot. This could be a really demoralizing loss for the program if the 'Cats aren't careful. Tomorrow night will tell us a lot about this team. 8pm first pitch, 7:45pm pre-game on WNUR.


I hate to use the 'E' word, but that's exactly what this performance has been by the #2 seed in the country. Having an off-night is one thing, but 9-0? Oh my gosh! The top of the 5th inning lasted 32 minutes.


Canney out, Delaney in. 4-0 and counting: Top 5th. Delaney balks, walks in a run...7-0 Washington. Canney back into the game. Still no outs. My goodness, this is tough to watch right now.

Offense Languishing

The 'Cats are not clutch least for now. 5th inning, still 3-0.

Wild Night

3-0 on a Wild pitch. Walk, balk, tag-up, wild pitch. Ugly.

Washington draws first blood

1-0 on a single to right. Those walks are biting Canney in the rear end. Now 2-0 on an RBI ground out.

Squandered Chance

Runners on the corners with 0 outs, and the 'Cats come up empty-handed in the 2nd. Not good...

For a pitching duel...

...both teams have gotten some good hacks in over the first inning or two. This ump is NOT giving the outside corner to either pitcher. We'll see who that hurts more.

8:37 pm first pitch (CST)

NU/Washington coming up...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oklahoma City Drama

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the total dearth of posts from the WCWS, but suffice it to say that we were a bit preoccupied. From an NU perspective, the most important thing is that the Wildcats won today, beating Arizona State 2-0 behind an excellent performance from Eileen Canney. Katie Logan and Tammy Williams provided all the offense the 'Cats would need with an RBI double and a solo shot, respectively. Canney was the main story, though, throwing a complete game one-hit shutout. Check out the highlights at! NU moves on to face Washington tomorrow evening at 6pm. The Huskies' pitcher was just as impressive as Canney in her team's win over DePaul earlier in the day, so it should be a dandy tomorrow.

From a personal perspective, the most important news of the today was the arrival of our luggage in Oklahoma City. Without delving into it too much, this trip (until about 2 hours ago) was overshadowed by a series of unfortunate events plaguing the broadcasters of WNUR. They may or may not include:

-Oversleeping (by a certain member of our broadcast KreW who shall remain nameless)...leading to...
-Missing a flight
-A canceled flight
-Losing luggage
-Multiple hours of fruitless phone conversations with American Airlines baggage personnel*
-Frantically buying makeshift equipment at radio shack
-Buying new clothes and toiletries on the airline's dime, mere hours before gametime
-ISDN failure & reprogramming
-Credit card denials at dinner
-Confronting overzealous parking enforcers
-Sustaining multiple gunshot wounds to the torso**

* During one specific conversation with a well-meaning but hopelessly bureaucracy-obsessed employee, I was forced to describe---in excruciating detail--the outside AND contents of our missing luggage. I was constantly asked to list three items in each bag before moving to the next exciting step: "talking about those items." At one point I literally had to spell "s-p-e-r-r-y," to help identify the top-siders sitting inside my personal luggage. At that point I had to excuse myself from the room as to avoid catching the delirious laughter bug that had bitten my two colleagues.

**This actually did not happen, but it would not necessarily have surprised us.

The overwhelming angst caused by these trials and tribulations was significantly mitigated by the Wildcats' win, and was totally relieved when I received confirmation that our "items" had arrived at the baggage claim area in OKC. I arrived at the airport, saw our glorious bags, high-fived the woman behind the counter, collected our bags and reimbursement check (for our lovely new attire), and skipped back to the car. Even the power-hungry man from the parking gestapo couldn't ruin my mood with his over-the-top threats. On the drive back from the airport, "I feel good" by James Brown came on the radio. Kyle and I laughed heartily and sang along.

We are currently sitting at the stadium watching Arizona/Baylor. Most people here are rooting for the Bears, who are big-time underdogs.

Later on, I will enjoy a lovely shower, change into my own clothes, and celebrate NU's victory. It's a sleep-in day tomorrow. And we won't even miss a flight! Thank goodness that the past 24 are exactly that....PAST. Absolutely brutal. But now that we've got our wits about us, GO 'CATS! Enjoy the remaining broadcasts--let's hope there are quite a few.

Yesterday's phrase that pays was: "Let's talk about those items."
Today's is: "It's in my SHOES!"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

WNUR Sports Sweeps Daily Northwestern

WNUR Sports reclaimed the campus sports media crown on Tuesday, defeating the Daily Northwestern 13-4 in softball. The battle at Long Field was largely decided in the second inning, when the broadcasters broke through to build a 10-1 lead. Team captain/coach/crazyman Aaron Morse went 3 for 4, Frank Bauch added two key triples, and Brendan Flannery tacked on a long homerun. All of the WNUR players contributed both on offense and defense, allowing starting pitcher Guy Benson to cruise to a complete game victory, allowing 3 earned runs. Benson was named the game's MVP.

"It was all about my boys behind me making the plays," Benson said in a display of hilariously false humility. "Although with [fellow senior] Ray Garcia winning the game MVP the last two seasons, I felt a little pressure to perform well today--and I did."

With the win, WNUR bounces back from a disappointing (1-2) performance last season, in which they dropped the final two contests to the print journalists. The sweep of 06-07 is particularly sweet for the WNUR graduating seniors, including Garcia. "Estoy muy contento hoy," el dijo. "No me gusta 'El Daily,' y estoy satisfecho que ganamos en el partido."

Monday, May 28, 2007


We just got back from Philadelphia--exhausted but satisfied. What a night it was for NU lacrosse. Winning three straight titles is quite a feat, and our ladies should be very proud of themselves. Virginia gave them all they could handle, but they soldiered on and won the game.

What chaos on the field after the game! The players just mobbed eachother, jumping up and down, screaming, laughing, and crying. If you didn't know better, you might have assumed this was their first national championship. The NU fans were great, also. About 2,000 of the 6K+ crowd was wearing purple, and they were into it the whole game.

The play of the game (in my opinion) was the huge Lathrop save to keep the score 14-13 NU down the stretch. That turned the momentum around & led to the crucial goal by Dowd.

More to come...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

To the finals!

Last night was fun. The 'Cats absolutely stomped UPenn to advance to their third straight national championship game thanks to playing near-perfect lacrosse. NU shut out the Quaker offense for the entire first half, a feat that no team has accomplished since 1991. Aly Josephs was the hero with five goals, alongside her fellow senior Kristin Kjellman who added a hat trick. The game was all but over at halftime with Northwestern leading 8-0.

Will and I were marveling after the game: Hannah Nielsen, the sophomore sensation from Down Under, who leads the team with a mind-blowing 113 points, was almost entirely shut down by the Quakers. The 'Cats number one offensive threat and a finalist for national player of the year was virtually neutralized...and NU still won by TEN goals. That's a testament to the balanced nature of the Wildcat attack and the sense of teamwork Kelly Amonte Hiller instills in her players. It's a pleasure to watch.

I know it was already mentioned in the previous post, but WOW: DUKE?! What happened? We left the stadium when Duke started to take control late in the first half and Virginia seemed totally dead in the water. Trailing 13-4 in the second half, UVA stormed back for an almost-unheard-of 10 straight goals to win. We were chatting with coach Hiller back at the hotel last night, and she described the Virginia comeback as "one of the sickest things I've ever seen." No wonder she's such an awesome recruiter! Not only is she one of the greatest figures in women's lacrosse history, she's young enough to be able to use the adjective "sick" in lieu of "cool" without sounding lame.

So, as we enjoy Dillo Day here in Philly (don't expect any blog posts tonight), we are getting set for the big broadcast tomorrow night. Mark Murphy will join us on the pre-game, in addition to Kelly Amonte Hiller. Please join us at 5:45 CT for full coverage of NU/UVA. It's a rematch of the 2005 national championship, when NU dethroned the Cavs 13-10 in Annapolis, MD.

Go 'Cats!

An NU Dissection

Northwestern defeated Penn 12-2 yesterday in what was the single best performance from any lacrosse team that I have ever seen. And that from a team that essentially was not trying to score in the second half.

It is abundantly clear that the Wildcats are on a completely different level of lacrosse. This second half was almost entirely played with a running clock when Penn went down 10 goals. And it was the semi-finals. Penn was ranked second in the coaches' poll. A top tier team was demolished by the NU squad.

But the game that Guy and I called was nothing compared to UVA-Duke. The Blue Devils came out of the gates and blew UVA out of the water. At one point it was 13-4. But then, the Cavaliers made an unprecedented run. It was ten unanswered goals for the 'Hoos in one of the most exciting comebacks in tournament history.

Guy and I were debating how much momentum helps Virginia. In my opinion, the day off today is huge. The momentum of that tremendous run will dissipate today and the teams will be on equal footing come Sunday. And, given the monstrous disparity between NU and everyone else talent-wise, that bodes well for the Wildcats.

I am certainly predicting an NU win on Sunday. This team is too good for that not to happen. And I look forward to being on the air for my first NU championship.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Let the Good Times Keep on Rolling!

Hello NU Sports Enthusiasts!

As I'm making my much-anticipated return to the softball postseason broadcast booth tomorrow, I thought I'd join the discussion.

What a day! While close games are the ones you remember for ages, the blowouts are oh so relaxing. As predicted, South Carolina could not hit Eileen Canney. Since they have only three hitters batting over .232 and only 2 with more than 1 HR, it shouldn't be a shock.

The pleasant surprise was Northwestern's offense. South Carolina was able to upend the three higher seeds in their region by keeping them pinned down with great pitching. But they're not power-pitchers, which presents a problem. When you have runners on base and your fielders keep making mistakes (as was the case for the Gamecocks), you need someone who can keep the ball out of play. Strikeouts are essential. Hendon couldn't do it, and NU scored 4 crucial insurance runs.

The Wildcats are playing in their third straight Super Regionals. But for the first time in that span, they won on Friday. Saturday looks promising.

Follow that game with the most dominating defensive performance of the year for Northwestern lacrosse. The lowest goals allowed since a drubbing of Vanderbilt back at the beginning of the season. So Duke + two games against Penn still equals less goals allowed than NU averages PER game.

Here's how good it was. Not only was Penn shutout in the first half. Lathrop only had two saves. My partners in Philly can confirm this, but that stat tells me that Finch, Finochiarro, and the rest of the defense set up a brick wall around the fan. The Quakers didn't even put up a fight. What do you expect from pacifists.

Kyle Whitehead and I, your humble servant, on the call tomorrow. Let's play one!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Law & Order: Criminal Intent Is Torture

Hello all,

Since being in Philadelphia, I have only had two options of ways to waste my time:

1) Listening to Guy's horrendous, immature and offensive jokes. Numerous WNUR staffers, present and former (Greg Bobak, I'm talking about you) would be outraged at the stories told. They are not suitable for this blog.

2) Watching television. Now, when Guy and I got to the luxurious Marriott, we were greeted by hilarity on the boob tube: the National Geography Bee. The guffaws were free-flowing at the awkward displays of emotion from these young people. Unfortunately, the champion made quick work of her competition and that was the end of that amusement.

The USA Network then promptly began a marathon of Criminal Intent. Guy and I are both huge Law & Order fans. But, and I think I speak on behalf of Guy, CI is atrocious. And when it is on for hours upon hours, it is torturous. So I am announcing my campaign to revoke the FCC license of any channel that airs this filth, especially at the expense of the other Law & Orders (the original and SVU) that actually are riveting television.

Greetings from Philly!

Hey folks,

Will and I arrived in Philadelphia earlier today and we're enjoying ourselves immensely. The process of getting here, however, was not a particularly fun process. About half of the US Airways ATM-style check in contraptions were out of order, leading to high levels of frustration among our fellow travelers. Two beleaguered airline employees were desperately trying to match up checked baggage tags with the proper passengers, and they did so by just shouting out names randomly. Someone was actually named "Adolf." That can't be a fun name to grow up with. One of the last names we heard shouted out was, "Vendetta? Do we have a Vendetta here?" I responded by musing aloud that they might have a few of those developing thanks to the terminal debacle, prompting a few chortles from people standing around us.

Of course I got the middle seat, which made the flight oh so comfortable..but Will and I passed the time by talking lacrosse and making borderline inappropriate jokes. The baggage claim process was mercifully painless, as was the car rental. I feel so old being able to rent a car! It took us an hour to get to the hotel thanks to a labyrinth of one way streets and an, um, somewhat inattentive co-pilot. Fortunately my good friend Sean Hannity was on the radio, allowing me to enjoy the drive.

This hotel is a palace. The Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is easily the nicest hotel I've stayed in on a WNUR Sports trip. The lobby is amazing, the gym/spa/pool is incredible (free Odwalla fruit drinks and lime-infused H20), and there is a button on the room phone that's called "at your service." The good people on the other end of that phone line assist guests with virtually anything, including ordering a delicious pizza that may or may not be arriving in about 10 minutes.

We are currently doing some game prep and watching Law & Order: SVU. We are stoked for the game tomorrow. Penn has gotten a lot better since the 'Cats dispensed of them back in March, illustrated by an eye-opening win over Maryland in the quarterfinals. They have won 13 straight games and will be playing at their home venue. We still predict an NU win. Check in throughout the final four for more lax insight and pointless (but hopefully amusing anecdotes) here on the grand old WNUR Sports blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Exciting Weekend Ahead

There is quite a weekend on tap for Wildcat fans and WNUR Sports will be with you every step of the way.

Guy Benson and Will Cinelli will be providing live updates from their adventures at the lacrosse final 4 in Philadelphia and back in Evanston Kyle Whitehead will keep you up to date on the softball team's Super Regional matchup with South Carolina.

Stay tuned to and all weekend long for game recaps, highlights, analysis, stories from the road and much, much more.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wildcat Winners

So far, it's been a fine and dandy weekend in Evanston. Softball has rolled in wins over Wright State and Illinois State, setting themselves up nicely to clinch a super-regionals berth with one win tomorrow.

Lacrosse is headed to their third consecutive final four in Philadelphia next weekend. They took care of the Syracuse Orange 14-9 today, thanks to a dominant second half. Next up? Penn.

What a beautiful day in Evanston...and what a wonderful day to be a Northwestern fan.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Wildcat Central...


You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that Northwestern softball had received the overall 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Vaulting from a #6 national ranking to a #2 seed is stunning to me, but I have to credit the Wildcat coaching staff--particularly Kate Drohan--for making this happen. Drohan makes no mystery of her philosophy: Schedule the toughest non-conference opponents possible, and beat them. She and her Wildcats did just that and were rewarded with an eye-opening tournament seed.

In all likelihood, Northwestern will host both regionals and super-regionals over the next two weekends, making a return to the WCWS is a distinct possibility. That's not to say it's going to be a cake walk. Illinois State is dangerous in this first round, and any super regional opponent will pose a threat (remember UMass?). Nonetheless, the selection committee has granted NU a fairly smooth path to Oklahoma City, and I hope the 'Cats seize on this opportunity.


Kelly Amonte Hiller's crew just keeps on chugging. NU blew past Holy Cross in their sweet 16 home matchup yesterday and will face Syracuse at home this coming Saturday in the elite eight. The 'Cats have already faced and defeated the Orange this season, but it was a pretty close game. Northwestern only won by a 10-7 margin, and Syracuse really played them pretty tough. I still anticipate a W for the lax team, which would send them to their third straight final four--this time in Philadelphia. The quest for a 3-peat is on!


Northwestern's much-maligned hoops team received some terrific news this week when two highly-rated high school recruits gave Bill Carmody verbal commitments to join the 'Cats for the 2008-09 campaign. The two high school juniors, John Shurna (of Glenbard West) and Nick Fruendt (of Batavia), are considered to be blue-chip players on the Illinois circuit. These commitments have gotten quite a bit of favorable press for Northwestern around the area which may help entice other local studs to take the purple plunge. Either way, Bill Carmody and his staff (special props to Tavaras Hardy) appear to be steadily improving their local recruiting, and one has to believe that better days are ahead. Let's hope that the next generation of Wildcats will be the one that guides us to the promised land.

Anyway, it's been an exhilarating few days here in Evanston...and it's tough not to get caught up in the excitement. NU spring sports fans may be making a few trips back and forth between the lakefill field and Sharon J. this weekend..

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tough Break

The 'Cats fell to Ohio State 2-1 in today's Big Ten Championship game. In all honesty, they did not deserve to win. Northwestern's lone run came courtesy of a comedy of errors committed by OSU, and aside from those miscues, Wildcat bats were kept totally silent. Ohio State walked off with the win in the bottom of the 7th on a throwing error by Darcy Sengewald--absolutely heartbreaking.

Ray, Kyle and I have returned to Evanston--where we are looking forward to tomorrow's selection show for softball, as well as the women's lacrosse team's 1st round NCAA game.

More to come...

The trip's overall phrase that pays was "Chutch & Mutch."

Friday, May 11, 2007

FAIL to the Victors!

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Last year the Michigan Wolverines waltzed into Evanston and dominated the 'Cats in the Big Ten tournament final game, shutting them out 6-0. Michigan celebrated their victory at Sharon J. Drysdale Field as the 'Cats looked on from their dugout.

This season has been different. The Wildcats swiped the season series from the Blue and Maize by a count of three games to one, including today's 5-2 comeback win in Columbus. Watching the Wolverines packing their bags and heading home early put a smile on my face, especially because it was Northwestern that sent them packing. NU's hitters were so patient today, rarely swinging at pitches out of the zone. They picked up Eileen Canney after she struggled a bit, and scored five unanswered runs. Jessica Miller and Garland Cooper each contributed a big RBI double that helped bury UM. Now Northwestern needs to bear down and focus on OSU, who have scored 20 runs in their two tourney games thus far. They are playing very well right now, and they'll have the home crowd fired up for the title game. Tomorrow should be fun.

Today was a lovely day in Columbus. Ray, Kyle and I got up at the crack of dawn for calisthenics and a lengthy jog around the area. That was pretty rigorous. Then we enjoyed a delicious Bob Evans breakfast at about 2pm before heading over to the softball field to prepare for the broadcast. After the game we stopped by Damon's, a sports-themed restaurant with a number of huge screens showing various live sporting events. They even employ a video jockey of sorts--in tonight's case, an older gentleman--who announces which games are coming up, and on which screen. We overheard that they may have an opening on weekends, so Ray is preparing a demo tape and resume. Also dining at Damon's tonight..."CHUTCH," more commonly known as Wolverine head coach Carol Hutchins. As she enjoyed a few cold ones at the bar, Ray and Kyle had to work very hard to convince me not to saunter over and offer to buy her a drink. Who knows if I would have gone through with it anyway...she's a little intimidating.

Now it's time for more hours of intense broadcast prep. The Benson/Whitehead broadcast pairing may be the A- team, but I'd still recommend tuning in---especially for innings 1,2,6 & 7.

Finally, today's phrase that pays is "Catch and Carry."

NU to face OSU in Final

The Buckeyes pounded the Boilermakers 10-1 tonight, advancing to the Big Ten tournament final against Northwestern.

We'll be on the air tomorrow at 11:45 am CST with the WNUR Sports pre game; first pitch at noon.

'Cats Win 5-2

Coach Drohan threw a curveball to Wildcat fans prior to the game, announcing Eileen Canney would start for the second straight day. Drohan's move to keep freshman phenom Lauren Delaney on the bench raised some eyebrows, and it wasn't looking good at the start.

Canney gave up a run in a sloppy 2nd inning that included a horrendous throwing error by the pitcher on a routine ground ball. Canney fielded the ball, turned to first and threw the ball directly into the ground, way short of first base. Michigan added another run in the 3rd and NU was trailing 2-0 when they came up in the bottom of the 4th.

As I sat in the stands prematurely preparing for a trip home, the Northwestern bats woke up. The 'Cats mounted a rally as the Michigan fans and coaching staff groaned in reaction to several pitches that appeared to be over the plate were called balls. With the bases loaded, Wolverine starter Nikki Nemitz hit Erin Dyer to force in a run. She then forced in another run with a walk to Jessica Rigas and the game was tied.

In came Michigan ace Lorilyn Wilson from the bullpen to try to get the Wolverines out of the jam. She promptly gave up a 2-run double to Jessica Miller and the 'Cats grabbed the lead.

NU would add another run on an RBI double from Garland Cooper in the 4th.

Drohan showed further confidence in Canney by keeping her in the game despite early struggles. The senior repaid her by dominating the rest of the way. The last 3 innings were uneventful as NU closed out their hated rivals and cemented their spot in tomorrow's title game.

WNUR will have full coverage beginning at 11:45AM CT with the pregame show. Guy Benson and yours truly will be on the call as the 'Cats go for the championship against the winner of tonight's Purdue-OSU matchup.

Everything is falling into place...

No upsets thus far in the Tournament. In yesterday's second game, Ohio State trounced Penn State 10-2. Today, Michigan defeated Illinois 4-0, setting up a tremendous semifinal matchup with the Wildcats. Our coverage gets underway at 3:45 CT as Guy Benson and Ray Garcia get you set for what should be a gem. First pitch is at 4.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

One Down, Two to Go...

In Columbus that is.

With this win, the Wildcats are two wins away from winning the 2007 Big Ten Tournament and cementing a top 5 seed (in my opinion) in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. There are two things I would like to reiterate from today's broadcast:

1. Erin Dyer will be the key hitter in the NU lineup throughout the post-season.

2. Northwestern would be best served by playing both Michigan and Ohio State in the next two rounds.

As I said in the pre-game show, 4th inning, 6th inning and post-game show, Erin Dyer is in a pivotal spot in the Northwestern lineup. As the #5 hitter, she is the transition hitter between Logan, Williams, Cooper and Pauly at the top and Rigas, Miller, Kelly Dyer and Sengewald at the bottom. Despite her .227 average coming into the Michigan State game, she can have a huge impact on the post-season because of her ability to drive the ball the other way and make opposing pitchers work. The key thing to remember is that she will see a lot of pitches to hit because of expected success of the top four hitters.

Secondly, Coach Drohan prides herself on the tough non-conference schedule she sets up every year. By scheduling the likes of Arizona, UCLA and Texas in the non-conference, the Big Ten schedule seems much easier. In this year's Big Ten Tournament, a similar dynamic could happen. Northwestern will need to be at the top of their game if they want to make a second straight run at the WCWS. With that being said, they need tough competition going into the tournament and what better appetizer than with one of the nation's top programs in the Michigan Wolverines and the Big Ten regular season champions, the Ohio State Buckeyes. The level of intensity surrounding these potential matchups would be the best case scenario for the 'Cats as they prepare for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Before signing off, I would like to say the entire Ohio State Buckeyes media staff has been nothing but helpful thus far. This softens my position on the university as a whole but I still took great joy in watching them get worked at the BCS Title game and the NCAA Hoops Title Game.

Until next time, blog dismissed.

Thursday in Columbus

Hello, friends.

The most important thing that happened today was the Wildcats' 4-0 victory over MSU at Buckeye Field. As Kyle alluded to in his post, Eileen Canney was a pleasure to watch as she quickly dispensed of a baffled Spartan squad. The game was scoreless for the first 3 1/2 innings before sophomore catcher Erin Dyer went yard for 2 runs, and that proved to be all the 'Cats would need. A solid win. I must say that it was a less than solid turnout in terms of NU fans: I counted 14 in total. Granted, Columbus is a hike from Evanston (as we experienced yesterday), but I figured Northwestern might be able to draw at least one fan for each player on the roster. I guess I was wrong on that count.

Onward to the far less important details of our day in Columbus. Consider for a moment: What would an average group of college buddies do on a road trip? If the first thing that popped into your mind was a midday trip to the discount department store, Kohl''re right! Just after noon, Ray, Kyle and I gleefully skipped, arm-in-arm, into the Kohl's, and walked away with an assortment of socks, slacks, and shoes. This excursion was highlighted by a slightly awkward encounter between myself and a random middle-aged woman in a fitting room. The doors to the store's dressing rooms did not have locks on them, so this lady just waltzed right into my stall. Unfortunately for her, I was fully clothed.

After our decidedly un-masculine trip to Kohl's, we stopped by an classic WNUR Sports haunt: Applebees, where we sought to 'eat good in the neighborhood.' Ray and I both decided to continue with the wussie theme, ordering a soup/salad/sandwich combination, while Kyle opted for a turkey sandwich. When our beleaguered waiter delivered our plates, one meal was conspicuously missing--Kyle's sandwich. The waiter frantically explained that they had run out of turkey, and that they had just informed him of this, and that he was very very sorry...he ultimately made the following over-the-top, dramatic vow: "I'M GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!" (He then decisively comped Kyle's meal).

Later, after the softball game, we ventured to the aforementioned drive-thru liquor store and purchased a delicious two-pack of Miller Lite for the 21+ contingent of the road trip. In case you weren't aware, Miller Brewing is a proud sponsor of sports broadcasts on WNUR. They remind us to think when we drink, which is why I'm posting now rather than later on, after I've had my portion of the two-pack.

Dinner was next on the agenda, so we drove into downtown Columbus--the heart of Ohio's largest city. We settled on a chain Italian restaurant, Buca de Beppi (or something to that effect), and had our fill of delicious, previously-frozen cuisine. During the meal, the people at the table behind us had a long & loud discussion about the field of 2008 presidential candidates. The waiter even got involved. I battled every instinct in my being and stayed out of the fray. After waddling back to the Garciamobile, we headed back toward campus...and here we sit. Watching the Bulls blow a large lead with Ray complaining. I suppose it's his prerogative, though. You only turn 22 once.

A glorious match up of Big Ten softball rivals awaits us tomorrow--and I'm pleased to report that I shall make my triumphant return to the airwaves, having not called a pitch of softball in more than two years. I'm looking forward to it. NU/Michigan is always a battle, and tomorrow should be no exception. Until next time, Go 'Cats.

Today's phrase that pays is: "I'm going to do something about that!" or "The Scarlet and Red!"

'Cats Win 4-0

2 hours and 9 minutes after the first pitch of the 2007 Big Ten Softball Tournament, we are already back in our room preparing for a night on the town. Guy Benson, Ray Garcia and myself have Eileen Canney to thank.

The star senior baffled Spartan hitters all afternoon, pitching a complete game 3 hitter with 12 strikeouts. MSU couldn't lay off Canney's nasty riseball and Eileen even threw in a couple wicked screwballs for good measure. Canney has now officially silenced any critics who were saying she is not the same dominant pitcher she was last season.

Sophomore Erin Dyer was the offensive star of the game. Spartan starter Lesley Noel was going toe to toe with Canney through the first 3 innings, but the 'Cats broke through in the 4th with Dyer's 2-run blast over the right centerfield fence. NU added two insurance runs in the 5th thanks to some shoddy defense from Michigan State. Two Spartan errors led to 2 unearned runs for Northwestern.

The 'Cats will be back in action tomorrow afternoon in the semifinals. They will face the winner of tomorrow's Michigan-Illinois matchup, which gets underway at 11 CT. If Michigan gets by the Illini, it should be quite a semifinal matchup as the Wolverines are NU's biggest rival and both teams are ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Our semifinal coverage gets underway at 3:45 CT with the pregame show. Ray Garcia and Guy Benson will be on the call as NU tries to advance to the BTT Final for the second consecutive year.

Now it's time to celebrate an NU win and Mr. Garcia's 22nd birthday. More posts coming from the rest of the crew later tonight...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

NU-MSU Preview

My colleagues may use this blog to get a cheap laugh. They use it to poke fun at my dashing red hair, my melodic singing voice, my cat-like reflexes and many of my other incredible qualities. Me? I brush off these comments and bring you the content. Now onto the matchups....

Big Ten Tournament Opening Round
#2 NU (43-10, 15-3 Big Ten) vs. #7 MSU (33-25, 7-9 Big Ten)
First Pitch: 4pm

C: Erin Dyer vs. Kara Weigle

Dyer may be the 'Cats hottest hitter heading into the BTT. Fresh off 3 home runs in a doubleheader sweep of #14 Depaul, the sophomore is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week. Still, as far as body of work, the sophomore in green and white gets the edge. Weigle sports a .356 average and leads the spartans in RBIs (48) total bases (113).

Edge: MSU

1b: Garland Cooper vs. Dayna Feenstra

No information necessary. A more appropriate matchup would be Cooper vs. Albert Pujols or Cooper vs. Ted Williams. Cooper has 14 more HRs, 43 more RBIs and slugs at a clip .359 higher than Feenstra's.

Edge: NU

2b: Nicole Pauly vs. Gina Mondo

Pauly has been perhaps the 'Cats biggest surprise this season. The freshman burst onto the scene in the high pressure spot of hitting behind Williams and Cooper in the lineup. All she did was respond with a .310 average and 11 doubles. She's even a perfect 8 for 8 on the basepaths. Mondo is one of the lightest hitters in the Spartan lineup.

Edge: NU

3b: Darcy Sengewald vs. Caitlin Mahoney

Sengewald is not in the lineup for her offense. Although she has shown the propensity for the clutch hit, the junior is the anchor in the NU infield and saves several runs per season with her glove. Mahoney leads Michigan St. in homeruns (12) and is second in RBIs (47).


SS: Tammy Williams vs. Meghan Darhower

Much like the 1b matchup, this one isn't even close. A glance at Williams' numbers boggles the mind (.438 average, 14 doubles, 13 home runs, 43 RBIs, .747 slg, 14 stolen bases). The sophomore who wasn't even supposed to be a Wildcat is on pace to be one of the finest hitters ever to don the purple and white. Darhower can't hold a candle to Tammy.

Edge: NU

Outfield: Dyer/Logan/Miller vs. T. Nicosia/N. Nicosia/Mercado

Twin sisters Traci Nicosia and Nikki Nicosia are 1st and 2nd on the team in average (.362 and .358, respectively). Traci has more power (15 doubles vs. 2), but Nikki wreaks havoc on the basepaths (21 stolen bases in 25 attempts). Logan often goes unnoticed on the star-studded Wildcat squad. The senior slaps her way onto the basepaths and sets the table for the big boppers behind her. Still, Kelly Dyer and Jessica Miller are two of the weakest hitters in the NU starting lineup. MSU has the depth and wins the matchup.

Edge: MSU

Pitching: Canney/Delaney vs. Turner/Hair/Noel

This is the difference maker in the matchup. NU's staff ERA is more than a point and a half lower than MSU's (1.74 vs. 3.39). Canney worked through her early season inconsistencies and seems to be peaking at the right time. Delaney has pitched like a seasoned veteran since she first stepped into the circle this Spring. The Spartans are 9th in the Big 10 in pitching. Lesley Noel makes the majority of the starts (10 of the 16 conference games) but is only mediocre.

Edge: NU

Overall: NU wins 4-3

Prediction: NU should have little trouble with the Spartans. This could be a trap game as most are looking forward to a potential semifinal matchup with Michigan, but Coach Drohan will have the 'Cats focused on the task at hand.

Final Score: NU wins 8-2.

"A MAN's Journey"

Earlier this afternoon, some talented & intrepid WNUR Sports broadcasters (and a current Sports Director) began an epic journey into the belly of the beast: Columbus, Ohio. We begin our coverage of the Big Ten softball tournament tomorrow afternoon.

Today's drive was relatively tranquil, with the exception of an unnecessarily hostile discussion about the merits of making up Big Ten softball games canceled due to bad weather. The current Big Ten policy (no make-ups) is the sole reason that we're here in Buckeyeland, rather than sleeping in our own fluffy beds back in Evanston. I could write a compelling case for changing this preposterous policy, but I've already won that argument once today--and being right does get exhausting after awhile.

The emotional anguish of a 7-hour drive was somewhat mitigated by a terrific iPod "road trip" playlist featuring an excellent blend of Billy Joel, classic rock, Big Ten fight songs, WNUR highlights, and some more Billy Joel. Ray's Mariachi music didn't go over quite as well.

We also managed to resist the urge to stop and tour the exclusive condominiums of "Williamsburg by the Lake" in podunk, Indiana. The complex's tiny/polluted-looking/man- made lake and its beautiful Interstate-side location made this community a tempting option for post-graduation residency. (Kyle could commute to NU).

Upon arriving at our generic-brand hotel, we almost immediately changed rooms for the reasons outlined by Ray in his previous post. Speaking of Ray, Feliz Cumpleanos, amigo! The big 2-2! We also noticed the *drive thru* liquor store across the street. We may investigate this unique place of business tomorrow after the game, but purely out of journalistic curiosity.

For dinner, we enjoyed a feast at the "Buckeye Grill," or something to that effect. (Incidentally, it seems to us like every business in this town has some connection to the awful Buckeyes. It's sickening.) Anyway, our waiter seemed to be hellbent on not allowing any glass of Pepsi to ever get even half empty, but overall he was attentive and helpful. After the meal, Ray and I taught young Kyle how to include a tip on a check paid on a charge card. This may benefit our colleague if/when he enters the dating fray.

Well, we wait with baited breath for this Big Ten tournament to get underway tomorrow. The broadcast should be a good one, despite my absence, so tune in! Also, be sure to read more about our exploits tomorrow evening, when we update this hallowed blog.

Finally, today's 'phrase that pays' is: "Get a grip."

Good Evening from Columbus

The crew for the 2007 Softball Big Ten Tournament, Guy Benson, Kyle Whitehead and yours truly, has arrived in the mediocre state of Ohio. It was a long and sometimes contentious seven hour drive from Evanston but our friendship overcame all and we are now resting comfortably in the University Plaza Hotel. We have been here for roughly four hours and are already in our second room. This stems from our first room having an air conditioner that was "slowly dying" and making a noise reminding me of a Chili's dinner. And in 80 degree weather, this could cause a problem for two strapping young men and Kyle.

We are preparing for what should be an easy quarterfinal win for the Wildcats as they take on 7th seeded Michigan State tomorrow evening at 5pm ET/4pm CT. You can hear all the action on WNUR Sports 89.3 FM and online at Continue to check in with the WNUR Sports blog for continuous updates on our travels throughout the greater Columbus area. Until next time, take of yourself...and no one else.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Northwestern's Spring Sports

Most people on Northwestern's campus are obsessed with the football team's return to prominence in 2007 or the men's basketball team's repeated disappointments, year after year. And don't get me started on the awful women's basketball team. Yet, so many fans have no idea that two of the country's best teams in their respective sport reside right here in Evanston. Northwestern's Womens Lacrosse team is not only #1 in the country, and winners of 11 straight games, but they also happen to be the 2-time defending national champions. In addition, Northwestern's softball team is ranked 7th in the country and is the defending national runner up from 2006. Despite their recent struggles, they are still in contention for the regular season Big Ten Championship. It would behoove any REAL Northwestern sports fan to make their way out to the Lakefill and Sharon J. Drysdale Field to enjoy the great competition these collegiate powers have to offer. GO WILDCATS!