The Morning Session
I got up around 9:30 a.m. after a late night on Friday, then turned on ESPN and watched most of the 11 a.m. elimination game. The #12 UCLA Bruins were taking on #8 Florida State and, being a West Coaster, I was pulling for the Bruins.
During the 5th inning, I drove over to the Remington Park and took the free shuttle to the stadium with a jovial bus driver. Apparently I was the only Michigan fan on the packed bus – as well as the only person other than the driver who remembered “Sing Along with Mitch.” Now how could that be? Anyway, outside the stadium I visited the NCAA sports team shop and learned to my dismay that all Michigan shirts and hats were sold out. There was plenty of apparel from the other seven teams but none left from Michigan, which speaks to the large Wolverine fan turnout.
Above: The ASA Stadium, northeast of Oklahoma City. This was my home for several days in early June.
After I got into the stadium, I stood on the third base side rather than in my seat in left field and watched the last UCLA batter ground out. Florida State won and sent UCLA home.
Florida State 8, UCLA 4. UCLA is eliminated.
Before the second game started, I bought a massive cup of lemonade with a full, cut-up lemon at the bottom, a great bargain even at $5 because I could pour water into the cup all day and, with the lemons in the cup, make my own lemonade. It was a day-long thirst quencher.
I found my seat in the hot, shiny bleachers in left field – and began to sweat. Man, it was hot in the bleachers and I sweated a lot, and so did everyone else, but at least there was a slight breeze that occasionally cooled things down a bit. I brought my new blue foam seat cushion that I got at Dick’s Sporting Goods the day before, which provided just enough cushioning to make sitting for countless hours fairly comfortable.
This was an elimination game between No. 6 Alabama and No. 10 LSU and I pulled for the Ragin’ Cajuns, since they’d never been to the finals. And they won, thus sending the powerhouse Alabama team home.
LSU 6, Alabama 4. Alabama is eliminated.
The Evening Session
After Session 1 ended, everyone cleared the stadium and I immediately went to the front of the line that was forming outside the gates to get in for the next session. The folks at the gate did the requisite bag check (nope, still nothing in there) and swiped my credit card at the gate for verification and printed out my ticket. I bought a great freshly-grilled cheeseburger for $4.50 and a large drink with a hard plastic WCWS souvenir cup for $4.00 – another bargain, I figured – and then found my seat out in left field.
In the first game, No. 16 Georgia faced No. 4 Auburn in the Winner’s Bracket and, of course, I pulled for the underdog Georgia. I was surrounded by a large contingent of Georgia fans who were all pulling for someone on the team named Paige, including two little kids who had “Auntie Paige” stitched on the backs of their shirts. Georgia was leading 3-1 going into the seventh and final inning, but Auburn responded with 3 runs and thus sent Georgia to an elimination game tomorrow.
Auburn 4, Georgia 3. Georgia drops into the Loser’s Bracket.
The big event was next: a highly-anticipated match-up between the two top-ranked teams, my #2 Michigan Wolverines and the local team, the #3 Oklahoma Sooners. The stadium was packed with over 8,00 in attendance. I figured there would be a massive sea of red in the stands, but there was a large contingent of Michigan fans, too, and I would’ve given the fan balance to Oklahoma by only a 60/40 margin.
Above: Scenes from the Michigan vs. Oklahoma game. Michigan had the winning run on base in the final inning but couldn't pull it out. (1:32)
Michigan’s star pitcher, Megan Betsa, didn’t pitch her best game – hitting the first OU batter, who eventually went on to score one of three runs in the first inning. Megan settled down a bit but struggled all night, giving up 6 runs before being replaced by the backup starter in the seventh inning.
I sat next to a group of nice folks wearing red, two moms and their college-aged daughters, one of whom was going to OU and the other to a college in Texas, all of whom apparently knew each other. One of the mom’s teased me at the beginning of the game when I clapped for Michigan, saying, “Oh, we can’t be friends,” but we all got along well and chatted throughout the game, which has been pretty typical of my WCWS experience so far. No matter who folks are rooting for, everyone gets along pretty well.
Michigan dug themselves a huge hole early, going down 7-3 heading into the seventh and final inning, but then they mounted a big comeback, scoring two runs in the seventh. They had the bases loaded and the winning run on base, but OU got the last out and sent Michigan to the elimination game – to be played only 12 hours later at noon on Sunday. It was a pretty disappointing loss and I was dismayed, but I figured Michigan would regroup and come out strong tomorrow.
I headed back to the motel, had dinner, and got to bed at 2:15 a.m. Yep, it had been another long day.
Oklahoma 7, Michigan 5. Michigan drops into the Loser’s Bracket.
The 2016 Women's College World Series (WCWS): Day #3 (Saturday)