Stanford vs. Arizona will be the matchup for the women’s national title, and the Pac-12 will have its first national champion since 1992, when the Cardinal — then, as now, coached by Tara VanDerveer — won its second title.
The two regular-season meetings between the Cardinal and Wildcats were not particularly close. Stanford won, 81-54, on New Year’s Day in Tucson, then 62-48 in the rematch at Maples Pavilion.
Yet, Sunday’s game should be a really good one, because Aari McDonald is on some kind of a heater right now.
It’s not news that Arizona’s offense runs through the senior guard. McDonald scored nearly one-third of the Wildcats’ points this season. Her run over the last three games, though, is the reason Arizona is playing for its first title.
Against Texas A&M, McDonald hit six three-pointers and scored 31 points, a season high that she eclipsed with 33 against Indiana in the Elite Eight, including five threes. On Friday night, McDonald was 4-for-9 from downtown and scored 26, while also grabbing seven rebounds. Arizona led UConn all the way, and anytime the Huskies got close, McDonald was there to put a stop to any thought of a rally.
In the two games against Stanford this year, McDonald was a combined 1-for-12 on threes. Arizona has been a different team in this tournament than the one the Cardinal dominated.
Without phenom Paige Bueckers and UConn, and without Aliyah Boston and South Carolina, who lost a thrilling first semifinal to Stanford, the title game is sapped of some appeal of name recognition, but McDonald’s star is on the rise and Stanford is a dominant, well-balanced team.
This could be the space to wish there were a third-place game, but as any World Cup soccer fan can tell you, that’s not all you think it’s cracked up to be. Bueckers and Boston have plenty of stage ahead of them. Sunday, it belongs, deservingly, to Stanford and Arizona.
Ah, so the Astros are leaning into it.
Literally, it seems.
LSU second baseman Collier Cranford broke up Jack Leiter’s no-hit streak with a leadoff single in the fifth inning, and never mind that the Tigers lost, 11-2, they wound up managing to score a run against Leiter, who no-hit South Carolina two weeks ago, then went seven no-hit innings at Missouri last week before being pulled.
The run against Leiter was unearned because on Tre’ Morgan’s one-out single, an error by left fielder Jack Bulger, the runners advanced to second and third. Cranford scored on a groundout by Will Safford and Leiter struck out Dylan Crews — his 12th and final strikeout of the game — to end the threat.
In the next inning, Cade Doughty became the first player this season to homer off Leiter, resulting in only the second earned run against the righty this season.
Leiter’s ERA now stands at 0.43 and he’s 7-0.
Trevor Bauer also had a deep no-hit bid in his Dodgers debut, but he gave up a single to Trevor Story leading off the seventh inning in Denver, then a homer to Charlie Blackmon, then a walk to C.J. Cron, then a homer to Ryan McMahon. Bauer did end his night with a strikeout of Garrett Hampson, but he also ended it with a 5.68 ERA. The Dodgers won, 11-6, because they have an incredible lineup that put up 10 runs before their huge free-agent acquisition fell apart.
Also, dude was upstaged by a cat running on the field.