Sports Extra

college basketball

Defending champ Baylor upended by Louisville

OKLAHOMA CITY – From the opening tip of the season, there was only one question in women’s college basketball: How do you stop Brittney Griner?

Louisville found the answer Sunday night, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament.

Considered a lock for the Final Four – and prohibitive favorites to win a second consecutive championship – Griner and her Lady Bears got bounced 82-81 by fifth-seeded Louisville in an NCAA regional semifinal.

Baylor (34-2) had won 32 consecutive games and 74 of 75 behind Griner, among the greatest players ever in her sport. But the 6-8 star didn’t make a basket until the second half, then committed a foul with 2.6 seconds left that gave Louisville a chance to win.

Monique Reid made those two foul shots, rescuing the Cardinals (27-8) after they squandered a 17-point lead in the last 7½ minutes.

Baseball

Louisville Slugger bats undergoing rare makeover

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The familiar smell of hot dogs and freshly cut grass on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day will be complemented by changes to the iconic Louisville Slugger bat, which now is made with firmer wood and stamped with a new logo.

The 129-year-old manufacturer hopes the harder bat, which is less likely to splinter, and more modern logo will help the family-owned company stay relevant in the sporting goods supply market and ahead of competitors in luring younger ballplayers to its products.

The new logo is the first such change since the company dropped the “Hillerich & Bradsby” name from the center of its oval design and replaced it with “Louisville Slugger” in 1980. And the new bats, which are made from a high-grade wood and processed to enhance the surface’s hardness, are the biggest change in the hardware since the introduction of cup-ended bats in 1972.

The changes were the result of a multi-year process that involved talking with everyone from corporate partners to players about what they wanted in a bat to how the new logo looked on the equipment.

The new bats – made of ash or maple – are designed to be harder than previous models. Bobby Hillerich, director of Wood Bat Manufacturing for Louisville Slugger, said new selection processes for the wood, as well as drying and processing methods, have created a bat hard enough to reach a grade of 9h – the highest rating possible by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Tennis

Murray tops Ferrer in final bumped by basketball

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – As a dramatic men’s final at the Sony Open neared its conclusion in a winner-take-all tiebreaker, Andy Murray waged a 28-shot exchange with David Ferrer, who was left so exhausted by the rally he crumpled to the court.

CBS viewers missed it. They also missed seeing Murray accept the trophy after he erased a championship point Sunday and rallied past Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1).

An 11:30 a.m. Eastern start on Easter turned out not to be early enough for CBS. The network cut away when the final went to the tiebreaker, switching to the tipoff of the NCAA Tournament game between Michigan and Florida.

Tennis Channel televised the end of the match, and CBS later showed a replay of match point.

Golf

After rain delay, Houston Open finishes right on Points

HUMBLE, Texas – D.A. Points came back from a long rain delay and made four pars, the last one giving him a one-shot victory in the Houston Open and a trip to the Masters.

With a putter he once borrowed from his mother and never returned, Points rolled in a putt from just outside 12 feet on the final hole to polish off a 6-under 66 and avoid a sudden-death playoff.

It was quite a turnaround for Points, whose only other PGA Tour win was at Pebble Beach two years ago with actor Billy Murray along for the laughs.

Associated Press