Chat with Graham Hays
Hays contributes to ESPN.com's women's basketball, softball and soccer coverage.
Send those questions now, then check back at 4 p.m. ET on Friday!
Graham Hays (4:01 PM)
Hello from Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, where the heat is making a better comeback than any of the teams came up with yesterday.
Graham Hays (4:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping in for a few questions!
Brett, Winter Springs, FL
After seeing Stacey Nelson shut down the high powered offense of Arizona, so you see any team being able to put up enough runs on the Gators to beat them. I know that their offense has struggled recently, but they seem to always manage to manufacture enough runs to help Nelson.
Graham Hays (4:05 PM)
Florida's title feels inevitable to me. I get the same sense watching them play that I got watching UConn women's basketball this year. They're just that much deeper than anyone else. And as you hint at, they don't need to be clicking on all cylinders to win. If the offense isn't piling up runs, Nelson can shut down anyone. If she has a (very) rare off night, there are so many bats behind her that they always seem to get enough runs. Maybe the one difference with UConn is that in Danielle Lawrie, there may be someone out there who could stand up to them on the right night (and already did once this season). But in all honestly, I have a hard time seeing anyone pushing the Gators here.
danielle (wilton, connecticut)
What surprised you the most from Thursday's games?
Graham Hays (4:07 PM)
Aside from the day session crowd being roughly the same size as the night crowd, it has to be Alabama. The Tide could have played a good game and lost -- Michigan is a really good team -- but to come out and make some of the mistakes they made was really surprising.
Graham, What was wrong with Alabamna last night will they rebound and beat Michigan if they lose?
Graham Hays (4:11 PM)
They'll cross over, so if they beat Arizona, they'd get the loser of ASU-Washington first. I'm not sure there were only one or two things wrong last night; it seemed like a lot went wrong. Kelsi Dunne seemed to struggle dealing with what some people perceived as a squeezed strike zone, the defense behind her made some miscues, and they didn't seize on any of the few chances they had on offense to make something happen. But more than anything, and granted, it's tough to do this on a championship stage and trailing early, but they didn't seem to be enjoying the chance to play the game. Alabama is a team that plays with a lot of energy and precision when it's on, and both were missing.
When will Nemitz get recognized as one of the best pitchers?
Graham Hays (4:14 PM)
Fair question. Her numbers put her darn close to Nelson and Lawrie, even if she's throwing a few less inning splitting time with Taylor. It's going to be really interesting to see what Hutchins does with her pitchers tonight. Against Florida, you may need both of them anyway, just to mix things up the second or third time through the order, but just how much of a roll does the coach think Nemitz is on? Will she get a second start in a row? One of the things Hutchins mentioned last week as something Nemitz has battled at times is a tendency to look over her shoulder. If she gets the start, will there be any sign of that?
Have you every seen a player smaller than Kelly Montavo? that girl is amazeing
Graham Hays (4:15 PM)
I've seen a few in that 4-foot-9, 4-foot-10, 4-foot-11 range, but basically, no, she's at one extreme of things. And to not only succeed with that size but in some ways use it to her advantage, especially when she's able to charge balls and get to them a fraction of a second quicker, is amazing.
Ray (College Park, MD)
Hey Graham, how in the world is Stacey Nelson not the best player in the country? That girl's got game. Practically no-hit the best offense out there. If it's just because she doesn't hit, Lawrie's a nice hitter, but not so spectacular that her numbers couldn't be duplicated by some other DP. Stacey Nelson totally deserved it.
Graham Hays (4:19 PM)
I'm not sure I buy the idea that Lawrie is a replacement level DP. Georgia's decision to intentionally walk her twice yesterday was very surprising, but it does suggest the respect people have for her power. She's probably the best home run threat in that lineup, even if Watson has more. That said, Player of the Year absolutely could have gone either way. Nelson had a phenomenal season. People just don't threaten to score runs on her -- she doesn't give up extra-base hits, her control has been much better since the middle of last season and she can make good hitters look helpless. Honestly, it was a 50-50 thing, and from what I gather, the voting was reflective of that. It was really close.
Jay (Cape Coral, FL)
What are teams going to need to do to hit off Lawrie? Arizona St. has already lost to her twice this year and even the confident Georgia teams wasn't able to string together the hits.
Graham Hays (4:22 PM)
Arizona State lost twice, but they got about 20 hits off her in three games. I won't pretend to know how to work an at-bat against her; it's a daunting task for anyone. It does seem like she's been leaving a few more pitches up in the postseason -- it's still Lawrie, so that means maybe two or three hanging pitches a game instead of one. Honestly, the walk-home run, two-run rally might be a team's best hope, so patience is key. The thing is the Sun Devils have been a little inconsistent with the power game of late.
Who will Oregon hire as their coach?
Graham Hays (4:25 PM)
I'm not sure. One name that has been tossed out in the rumor mill here is Arizona pitching coach Teresa Wilson, but with someone like Kenzie Fowler coming in next year, it's not exactly a bad time to be in Tucson for a few years. The way things are going, I think Arkansas might be a better opportunity. Jamie Pinkerton did a lot of good things with that program, and with the new facility there, it might be easier to take that program the next step than fighting the entire country for California recruits at Oregon.
Which team has the best chance of coming out of the loser's bracket?
Graham Hays (4:29 PM)
Hmm, best might be a stretch for anyone. I don't think you give up on Alabama after one game. They do, unfortunately for them, have experience playing two games Saturday, and they have two quality pitchers. And Georgia accounted itself pretty well in its first-ever WCWS game. That's a team that seems capable of losing itself in the moment, and not worrying about exactly how long a road it is to get from Saturday morning to the championship series Monday morning.
With all the seniors Alabama has dont you think they are due to win it all and if they dont will it be a while till they do? becuse all 5 seniors start
Graham Hays (4:31 PM)
This did seem to be the year, with a year of experience for Dunne and then the five seniors you mention. But Alabama has been the one SEC program that has really maintained a WCWS profile through a number of cycles. There is a lot of young talent on the roster and a lot more coming in over the next few years.
Rachel (Columbus, OH)
should the world series always be in Oklahoma? Why not move it around to some of the new stadiums, like the super bowl?
Graham Hays (4:36 PM)
The catch there is most of those stadiums are built to handle regular-season capacities. If you go some place like Georgia Tech, Baylor, Michigan, Arkansas or wherever, you're limiting yourself to crowds under 3,000 per session (although perhaps there would be ways to bring in temporary seating at some of those places). Personally, I like having it one place. When you say Oklahoma City, every softball fan thinks about the World Series. And it's a nice, small city that still has enough to do to make it interesting for fans coming in from out of town. It's a little disappointing to see how some of the local sports radio people treat the event, but there is a lot of local support. The Oklahoman does a terrific job of wall-to-wall coverage and there are a heck of a lot of in-state license plates in the parking lot.
Jay (Cape Coral, FL)
Is there any team that seems to have anything close to home field advantage for the series, with a majority of fans or simply fans who go all out to make up the difference?
Graham Hays (4:37 PM)
Not that I saw yesterday. Each team has their section for family, friends, boosters, etc., but I didn't really notice a decided advantage in the rest of the stadium for any one team. You would think Missouri might, in Big 12 country, but it didn't feel like it yesterday.
Graham Hays (4:39 PM)
All right, that's going to do it for the chat. Thanks to everyone for the questions, and tune in tonight for Washington-Arizona State and Florida-Michigan on ESPN2!
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