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Ohtani hits 22nd homer of season, Angels beat Tigers 8-3
06/20/2021 12:41am

Shohei Ohtani homered for the fourth time in five games and matched his high for homers in a season as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 8-3 Saturday night.

Buehler takes no-hitter into 8th, Dodgers beat D-backs 9-3
06/20/2021 12:36am

Buehler takes no-hitter into 8th, Dodgers beat D-backs 9-3

Sounders hold off Galaxy 2-1, Chicharito Shut Out For 3rd Straight Game
06/19/2021 11:50pm

Sounders hold off Galaxy 2-1, extend unbeaten start to 9

Ohtani Goes Into HR Derby Mode As Angels Rout Tigers
06/19/2021 1:04am

Shohei Ohtani celebrated his appointment to next months All-Star Home Run Derby in fitting style, connecting twice during the Los Angeles Angels 11-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.

D-Backs Lose Record 15th Straight, Souza Homers In Return
06/19/2021 12:49am

The Diamondbacks stumbled to their franchise-record 15th straight loss, with Steven Souza Jr. hitting a go-ahead home run in his return to Arizona following a horrific knee injury and helping the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-0 victory Friday night.


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Clippers headed to conference finals for 1st time in franchise history after 131-119 win over Jazz
06/19/2021 12:00am

Terance Mann scored a career-high 39 points and the Los Angeles Clippers advanced to a conference final for the first time in the franchises 51-year history, beating the Utah Jazz 131-119 on Friday night. The cheers, the excitement, you felt the monkey off of the Clippers back as far as getting past the second round, ...

Medical adviser says safest way to hold Tokyo Olympics is with 'no fans'
06/18/2021 9:57am

The safest way to hold the Tokyo Olympics is without any fans, the top medical adviser to the Japanese government said in a report on Friday. Dr. Shigeru Omis recommendation seems to put him at odds with organizers and the International Olympic Committee with the Olympics opening in just five weeks on July 23. Fans ...

Capacity crowd can return to Staples Center for Clippers playoff game Friday
06/18/2021 8:33am

The Clippers on Friday can accomplish something never done in franchise history, in front of a home crowd not seen in 15 months. A win in Game 6 against top-seeded Utah would clinch their first appearance in the conference finals. The game will be played in front of a Staples Center crowd whose capacity is no longer ...

Clippers' Kawhi Leonard listed as out with sprain for Friday's Game 7 vs. Utah Jazz
06/18/2021 12:16am

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is officially out Friday night for Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz, but coach Tyronn Lue did not have any update on if it will be longer. Leonard sprained his right knee Monday night in a Game 4 win. He traveled with the Clippers to Salt ...

Halos beat Tigers 7-5 as Angel Stadium welcomes back fans at full capacity for 1st time since pandemic
06/17/2021 8:30pm

Shohei Ohtani yielded five hits and a run over six strong innings, and Taylor Ward hit his first career grand slam in the Los Angeles Angels 7-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night. Ohtani 3-1 also drew two walks at the plate in another two-way performance for the Angels, who celebrated the Big ...


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Angels Game To Include Attempt To Raise Awareness of Prostate Cancer
06/20/2021 5:36pm

Major League Baseball will again devote Fathers Day to attempting to increase awareness about prostate cancer and raising funds to fight the disease at all of Sundays games, including the matchup between the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium.During Fathers Day games, players and on-field personnel wear the symbolic blue ribbon on their uniforms along with blue wristbands. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards are also blue.Players also wear specially designed caps to raise awareness and funds for the fight against prostate cancer. The caps feature blue team logos along with the symbolic MLB blue ribbon. WELCOME BACK TO CALIFORNIA WELCOME BACK TO CALIFORNIA LIVE. YOU ALL REMEMBER THAT CLASSIC TREAT THAT INCLUDED POPCORN, PEANUTS AND MOLASSES OH, AND THERE WAS A SURPRISE IN IT. YEP, WEu2019RE TALKING CRACKERJACKS. THAT WAS CREATED IN 1872 AND WEu2019RE GOING TO SHOW YOU HOW TO CREATE IT AT HOME WITH CHEF JASON. HI, JASON. HI, HOW IS IT GOING GREAT. HOW ARE YOU FANTASTIC. WEu2019RE LIVE FROM MAUI, WHERE MY TEST KITCHEN IS AT. WE SHOULD BE DOING THIS OUT ON THE BEACH. LET ME SEE IF I CAN WI-FI THERE. YOUu2019RE FROM CURIO IN SAN FRANCISCO SO YOU CALL THESE WHAT YOU MAKE CURIO JACKS. I WANTED TO BASICALLY HAVE FUN WITH SOMETHING, A PRODUCT THAT WEu2019RE ALL FAMILIAR WITH, AND KIND OF REIMAGINE IT AND ADD MORE DEPTH AND CHARACTER. SO WE START WITH POPCORN. I LIKE TO POP MINE WITH COCONUT OIL. ITu2019S GOT A LITTLE MORE FRAGRANCE TO IT, HIGH SMOKING POINT. YOU CAN EVEN BUY PREPOPPED POPCORN IF YOU WANT TO TAKE A SHORTCUT. SO WE POP THE POPCORN. THEN WEu2019RE GOING TO ACTUALLY TOAST THE NUTS. I HAVE VARIOUS NUTS. YOU CAN USE WHATEVER YOU WANT, WALNUTS, PECANS BUT I DECIDED TO GO WITH SKIN-ON PEANUTS, A NOD TO THE ORIGINAL. THEN I LIKE TO ADD IN SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND BLACK SESAME SEEDS. KIND OF GIVE AN ASIAN EFFECT. THEN WE WILL TOAST THESE AND AS THEYE TOASTING, WE CAN ACTUALLY MAKE THE SUGAR COMPONENT. FOR THE SUGAR COMPONENT, I LIKE TO GO A LITTLE DARKER. I LIKE USING MOLASSES. REALLY FOR THIS STEP YOU CAN ADD IN ANY SUGAR, BLUE COAST, HONEY, WHATEVER YOU HAVE AROUND THE HOUSE, CORN SYRUP. TODAY Iu2019M GOING TO USE CORN SOUP AND MOLASSES AND DARK BROWN SUGAR. SO WEu2019RE GOING DEEP WITH THE FLAVORS. WEu2019RE GOING TO ADD SOME BUTTER AND THEN A TON OF SALT BECAUSE THIS POPCORN IS UNSALTED SO WEu2019RE GOING TO SEASON IT AS WE ADD THE SUGAR. SO WHAT WE WILL DO IS ADD ALL OF THESE TO A POT AND SIMMER IT FOR ABOUT FIVE TO TEN MINUTES. THIS IS A REALLY FORGIVING RECIPE BECAUSE YOU CAN BASICALLY SIMMER IT FOR FIVE MINUTES, 15 MINUTES. ITu2019S NOT GOING TO MATTER. u2019RE ING TO COOK IT IN THE OVEN FOR AN HOUR AND THATu2019S GOING TO TAKE OUT A LOT OF THE MOTHER-IN-LAW MOISTURE CONTENT AND ALLOW THE SUGAR TO DISTRIBUTE EVENLY OVER THE POPCORN. WE HAVE TOASTED NUTS AND WE HAVE THE POPCORN. I PERSONALLY LIKE TO ADD IN SUGAR FIRST. SUGAR FIRST. THAT ALLOWS IT TO GET STICKY AND ADDS AN ADHESE. IF YOU HAVE SUGAR, ADD IT INTO THE POPCORN, AND THEN ADD IN THE NUTS SO THEY CAN STICK APPROPRIATELY. ONCE WE GIVE THAT A COUPLE GOOD MIXES, GET IT A LITTLE DISTRIBUTED, LIKE I SAID THIS IS VERY FORGIVING. WEu2019RE GOING TO THROW IT IN THE OVEN AND MIX IT EVERY 15 MINUTES. EVENTUALLY OVER AN HOUR, ITu2019S GOING TO EVENLY COAT EVERYTHING. YOU PUT THEM IN THE OVEN AT WHAT TEMPERATURE YOU PUT IT IN THE OVEN FOR WHAT TEMPERATURE AND FOR HOW LONG 250 FOR ONE HOUR AND EVERY 15 MINUTES MIX IT AROUND. WE WILL ADD THIS IN HERE AND VA LA, LOOK AT THAT, MAGIC, ITu2019S ALREADY DONE THE MAGIC OF TELEVISION. LOOK AT THAT, CURIO JACKS. YOU MIGHT BE ASKED WHAT PRIZES ARE WE DOING. YEAH. THE PRIZE THAT WE DECIDED TO WORK ON IS, YOU KNOW, THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS WE FELT KIND OF HOPELESS AND HELPLESS MORE. SO TO HELP THE COMMUNITY AND WE FOUND THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPREAD AWARENESS FOR BLACK LIVES MATTER AND TO FUND BLACK LIVES MATTER AFFILIATED NONPROFITS. SO WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS ACTUALLY THESE TEMPORARY TATTOOS THAT YOU PUT ON YOUR BODY, YOU POST IT AND TAG US, AND WE DONATE $1 FOR EVERY TATTOO TOWARDS A NONPROFIT. AND WEu2019RE WORKING WITH THE BLACK NEIGHBORHOOD, WHICH IS A YOUTH ORGAZATION WHICH TEACHES FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY TO TEENAGERS IN OAKLAND. YEAH, THATu2019S A WONDERFUL THING THAT YOU DO THERE, JASON. CURIO JACKS.,videoid:1786066499629908,videolength:269003,videoprovider:mpx,alleypackscheduleunpublish:,feedremoteid:mpx1786066499629,feedthumbnailurl: data-livestreamfalse data-titleBaseball Treat Homemade Cracker Jacks data-vidcid1:9:2425304 data-vidurlhttps://www.nbclosangeles.com/california-live/baseball-treat-homemade-cracker-jacks/2425304/ data-isleadfalse data-catnames1587:California Live data-tagnames849142:baseball snacks,70127:California Live,849141:cracker jacks,849139:CurioSF,817179:foodie,819265:homemade,816931:Malou Nubla data-customdataContentPartner:None,Source:WEBFM,SyndicationAllowed:true,mSNVideoCategories:MSN Video v4 Connector-most watched news,mSNVideoContentSupplierID:NBCLocal,mSNVideoCountry:us,subtitle:nosubtitle,uploadedByTeam:1,youtubeChannel:None data-autoplayfalse data-cplaytrueMLB will again donate all of its royalties from the sales of specialty caps and apparel emblazoned with the symbolic blue ribbon to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer.Players have the option to wear multi-pattern blue-dyed socks, light blue compression sleeves, batting gloves, wrist/elbow/leg guards and catchers equipment.Players and all on-field personnel have worn blue ribbons and sported blue wristbands on Fathers Day since 1996.Father&039s DayJun 16Father&039s Day 2021: Gifts for Every Budgetvaccine incentivesJun 15List: Here Are the Six California Vacation Packages in the Next Vaccine-Incentive DrawingBusinessJun 15MLB Unveils Plan to Enforce Rules Around Players Cheating With Sticky Balls

Walker Buehler Takes No-Hitter into 8th, Dodgers Defeat D-backs 9-3
06/20/2021 5:41am

Will Smith has been behind the plate for plenty of Walker Buehlers starts dating back to their minor league days. It doesnt take the Dodgers catcher long to know if Buehlers got the good stuff.Within a few pitches on Saturday night, Smith was sold: This was going to be fun.Im glad hes on our side, Smith said. And I dont have to face him.Buehler had another masterful mound performance, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning as Los Angeles beat the skidding Arizona Diamondbacks 9-3.The 26-year-old right-hander cruised through the Diamondbacks order, walking two, hitting a batter and striking out a season-best 11. He was pulled with one out in the eighth after giving up singles to David Peralta and Nick Ahmed.Felt like I had some gas left in the tank, Buehler said. But two good pieces of hitting and Im out of there.Buehler 7-0 breezed through the seventh, striking out Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker before getting Stephen Vogt to ground out. Peralta got a pitch up in the zone to start the eighth and lined a clean single into center. Buehler got a big hand from a sizable contingent of Dodgers fans at Chase Field in Phoenix.Man, I wanted that no-hitter, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. Everyone wanted it. The fastball velocity was his best in quite some time. He was working all quadrants.Buehler hasnt been beaten in his past 23 starts, which tied a franchise record. Kirby Higbe set the mark in 1946.Arizona has lost a franchise-record 16 straight and dropped 39 of its past 44 games. The Diamondbacks have the worst record in the major leagues at 20-52, and they set a major league record with their 23rd straight road loss Thursday.The D-backs have had some rough moments during their lengthy skid. On Saturday, it was apparent that they simply ran into one of baseballs best pitchers.I feel like it was the combination of the fastball with the location that was very effective against us today, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.Matt Peacock 2-5 took the loss, giving up three runs over five innings. Kevin Ginkel and Jake Faria were both hit hard in relief, which allowed the Dodgers to build a 9-0 lead.Smith had three hits for the Dodgers, including his eighth homer of the season. Justin Turner had three RBIs. Chris Taylor hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning.If Buehlers no-hitter had continued, Roberts might have had a tough decision: Buehler was already at 101 pitches when he gave up Peraltas single, nearing his season-high of 105. Roberts said he was willing to go to 125 pitches if needed.I was going to ride him, Roberts said. The pitch count is one thing, but if you peel back the layers, its stress. And there wasnt any stress. He was repeating his delivery, he was locating his stuff. I was going to see it through. I wanted it for him.The Dodgers last no-hitter was May 4, 2018, when four pitchers combined on a 4-0 win over the San Diego Padres. Buehler started that game but was pulled after throwing 93 pitches. It was just his third big-league start.SNAKEBITDiamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly broke his right wrist when he was hit by Buehlers pitch in the second inning. Kelly had been one of few bright spots for Arizona this season, hitting .260 with an .845 OPS in 50 games. The 26-year-old was acquired from St. Louis in exchange for Paul Goldschmidt prior to the 2019 season.Kelly was initally hopeful that hed avoided serious injury but that wasnt the case.I had the initial movement, I had the strength, Kelly said. As time went on it kept getting worse and worse.TRAINERS ROOMDodgers: OF Cody Bellinger hamstring is expected to be activated off the injured list as early as Monday when the Dodgers face the San Diego padres. 1B Max Muncy oblique could also see action in the Padres series. He is not expected to have a rehabilitation assignment. SS Corey Seager hand is expected to start a rehab assignment sometime next week.Diamondbacks: LHP Madison Bumgarner shoulder is scheduled to pitch a bullpen session Tuesday.UP NEXTThe two teams will conclude their three-game series on Sunday with the Dodgers sending RHP Tony Gonsolin 0-0, 3.38 ERA to the mound. The Diamondbacks will start LHP Alex Young 2-4, 3.86.This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

Bucks Edge Nets 115-111 in OT in Game 7, Giannis Scores 40, Kevin Durant 48
06/20/2021 5:37am

A Game 7 thriller, the NBAs first do-or-die game to go to overtime in 15 years, came down to a matter of inches.If Brooklyn star Kevin Durant was just slightly farther away or if his foot was slightly smaller he ends the highest-scoring Game 7 ever by an NBA player with a 3-pointer to win the series.We got lucky his toe was on the line and they called it a 2, Milwaukees Khris Middleton said. But once he hits that shot, weve got to forget about it. Theres still ballgame left. That wasnt the game.And given a second chance, the Bucks cashed it in for a ticket to the Eastern Conference finals.The Bucks withstood Durants NBA-record 48 points in a Game 7, beating the Nets 115-111 on Saturday night.Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 13 rebounds, and Middleton made the tiebreaking shot with 40 seconds left in OT.At the end of the day, I try not to get too high, not to get too low. But I almost got emotional a little bit out there because the team really tried their best, Antetokounmpo said. We kept our composure. We were down 2-0. A lot of people didnt believe we could make it.The Bucks held on when Durant missed two late jumpers, the last an airball with 0.3 seconds remaining.We got good looks there in overtime. We just didnt knock them down, Durant said. Respect to the Milwaukee Bucks in how they prepare, how they challenged us all series and made adjustments all series. Weve got nothing but respect for that ballclub.Middleton added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who reached the East finals for the second time in three years. They will play either Philadelphia or Atlanta in a series that starts Wednesday night.Durant played all 53 minutes and forced OT with a turnaround jumper that was just inches from being a 3-pointer that would have won it with a second left.But my big ass foot stepped on the line, he said. I just saw how close I was to ending their season with that shot.Durant added nine rebounds and six assists, but didnt have enough help with injured Kyrie Irving watching from the baseline and James Harden unable to locate his shot after missing most of the first four games with right hamstring tightness.Harden had 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but was 5 for 17 from the field.I was just going out there and trying to give everything I can and its just frustrating, Harden said.In a series where the teams often didnt produce the quality of play that was anticipated between the leagues two highest-scoring teams, Game 7 was a thriller, the first to need extra time since Dallas beat San Antonio in the 2006 Western Conference semifinals.The Bucks had a 109-107 lead before Middleton missed a 3, but the Bucks got the rebound. They then turned it over on a shot clock violation to give the Nets a final chance with 6 seconds left. They threw it in across the court to Durant, who hit a spinning, turnaround jumper from just inside the 3-point line maybe even on top of it to tie it at 109.Bruce Brown scored on a follow shot to open overtime but neither team scored again until Antetokounmpos basket with 1:12 to play. Brook Lopez blocked Durants shot on the other end before Middleton broke the final tie of the series.Durant tried to prolong it again, dribbling up the floor and running down the clock before launching a long look that came up well short.Lopez had 19 points for the Bucks, who were knocked out in this round last year after finishing with the NBAs best record. Jrue Holiday shook off a poor shooting night to finish with 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.Blake Griffin had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who thought they had a title contender after acquiring Harden but had their three superstars on the floor together for just 43 seconds in this series. They lost for the first time at home in the postseason.The Nets had struggled with slow starts but put together a good one in Game 7, getting 10 points from Durant to lead 28-25 after the opening quarter.Middleton and Holiday were both 2 for 11 in the first half, combining to miss all six 3-pointers in a rehash of their shooting struggles from when the series began in Brooklyn.The Nets capitalized on the Bucks misfires Antetokounmpo shot an airball on a free throw and Lopez and Holiday hit the side of the backboard on long jumpers during one ugly stretch to open a 51-41 lead on Hardens three-point play with 1:59 left in the half.Down six at halftime, the Bucks came out of the break with a 7-0 burst to grab a 54-53 edge. The Nets regrouped and were ahead 79-74 with under 2 minutes remaining, but the Bucks closed strong to take an 82-81 lead to the fourth.TIP-INSBucks: Antetokounmpo had his fifth straight game with 30 points and 10 rebounds, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbars franchise playoff record that he set in 1974.Nets: Durant had his third 40-point game of these playoffs. The Nets have only had three other 40-point postseason games in their NBA history. Brown had 14 points after playing just 4 1/2 minutes in Game 6.No. 7 IN GAME 7sDurant fell to 3-2 in Game 7s. though his average rose to 36.2 points. His average of 33.3 coming into the game was third among all players who had appeared in more than one Game 7, behind LeBron James 34.9 PPG in 8 games and Michael Jordan 33.7 PPG in 3 games, according to Elias.

Night of the Stars: Dressel, Ledecky Keep Winning at Trials
06/20/2021 1:47am

Americas biggest swimming stars shined brightly on the next-to-last night of the Olympic trials.Their only complaint Both wanted to go a bit faster Saturday.Caeleb Dressel added another event to his Tokyo program, powering to a dominating victory in the 100-meter butterfly.Katie Ledecky blew away the field in the 800 freestyle, winning by more than 5 seconds in a race where the battle for second provided the only drama. Ledecky locked up her fourth individual race at the Olympics with a time of 8 minutes, 14.62 seconds, adding to her victories in the 200, 400 and 1,500 free.Leading right from the start, Ledecky was essentially racing herself. She started out under world-record pace but tailed off when it quickly became clear no one could beat her.Its challenging, she said of being so far ahead of the field. Sometimes I feel like Im going faster than I am.Ledecky finished more than 10 seconds off her world-record performance at the Rio Olympics.It was a fine swim, she said. I thought Id be a lot better than that given how good my prelim swim felt.Fifteen-year-old Katie Grimes outraced veteran Haley Anderson for the second spot at the Olympics, knocking more than 11 seconds off her personal best to touch second in 8:20.36. Anderson, who already made the Olympic team in marathon swimming, just missed out on a race at the pool. She finished 15-hundredths of a second behind the youngster after a race covering 16 laps.Speechless, said Grimes, who races for a club in Nevada. I wasnt expecting that. I just wanted to finish it. Im so honored to be in this meet, to be going to Tokyo.In an interesting twist, Grimes is the same age as Ledecky was when she won her first Olympic gold with a surprising victory in the 800 free at the 2012 London Olympics.To be able to be on the team with her, Grimes said, is gonna be awesome.As with Ledecky, no one was even close to Dressel as he finished the fly in 49.87 just off his world record of 49.50 set two years ago at the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.No world records have been set through the first seven days of the U.S. trials. Dressel thought he had a shot in the fly.I wouldve liked to have been faster to put on a little bit of a show for the crowd, he said. No complaints, though.This meet has gone as according to plan as it could have, he said.Tom Shields claimed the second spot on the U.S. team by touching next in 51.19. Shields was an Olympian in 2016, taking gold as part of the 4100 medley relay.Dressel, who had already made the Olympic team with a victory in the 100 freestyle, made it 2-for-2 on the night when he returned a short time later to win his heat in the semifinals of the 50 free.Dressel is hoping to swim three individuals events in Tokyo and perhaps all four relays, giving him a shot at joining Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi as the only swimmers to win seven swimming medals at the Olympics.At the last world championships, Dressel became only the second swimmer after Phelps to win eight medals at a major international competition. The 24-year-old Floridian claimed six golds and two silvers, though two of those were in non-Olympic events. He said theres room for improvement in the 100 fly.I was a little too excited coming home, he said. I was a little sloppy at the end.With Phelps now retired, the burden is on Dressel and Ledecky to step up at these pandemic-delayed Olympics.Grimes wasnt the nights only surprise. Regan Smith, who has already won the 100 back, faded to third in the 200 back to miss out on a second individual event in Tokyo.Rhyan White took the victory in 2:05.73, with 18-year-old Phoebe Bacon claiming the second spot in 2:06.46.Smith finished third in 2:06.79, more than 3 seconds off her personal best.White and Bacon are both headed to the Olympics for the first time.Two Olympic veterans bounced back from disappointing performances to keep their Tokyo hopes alive. Simone Manuel, who revealed that she was diagnosed withovertraining syndrome after failing to advance from the semifinals of the 100 free, moved on to the final of the 50 free with the third-fastest time 24.50.Im just trying to race as best as I possibly can with whatever my body has, Manuel said. Im a person that fights to the end. Ill never know what the 50 is going to be if I dont go out there and give it a try.Nathan Adrian is facing the same predicament in the mens 50 free after failing to qualify in the 100.The eight-time Olympic medalist was third-fastest in the semifinals at 21.78, trailing only Dressel 21.51 and Michael Andrew 21.55.Adrian must finish in the top two in Sunday final to make his fourth Olympic team.The first Black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming, Manuel wont get a chance to defend her historic title in the 100. But revealing her health and mental struggles relieved some of the pressure she was feeling coming into the trials.Ive gotten a lot of nice messages and responses from people, Manuel said. It makes me think that Im not alone.She added, I just want to see whatever Ive got. I want to walk away with my head held high after this meet.Abbey Weitzeil was fastest in the womens 50 free, posting a personal best of 24.27 to take the top seed into the final. She already won the 100 free at these trials.Im super excited. I havent done a best time since 2015, the 24-year-old Californian said. I was really shocked when I saw the screen, but I cant let my guard down. Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberryMore AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/APSports

Women's College Sports Get Boost in TV Ratings, Visibility
06/19/2021 3:15pm

Odicci Alexander became an overnight sensation at the Womens College World Series.James Madisons dynamic, endearingly humble pitcher was well known among die-hard softball fans, but she introduced herself to a national audience by throwing a complete game to help her unseeded squad stun tournament favorite Oklahoma in the opening game earlier this month. She threw another complete game the next day in a victory over Oklahoma State and a star was born.As her team was being eliminated in the semifinals, Alexander drew a standing ovation when she left the field. Fans watching on TV and streaming devices were sorry to see her go and so was ESPN, which has been broadcasting the WCWS since 2000.Nick Dawson, ESPNs vice president of programming for college sports, called her emergence and her battles with Oklahoma the overarching story of the event, and said she set the tone for a memorable week.It just so worked out that she, as a dominant pitcher, ended up paired against arguably the greatest offensive softball team in the history of the sport in the opening game of the Womens College World Series, Dawson said. To me, a lot of thats luck. It just falls in your lap. The win is that were positioned based on our commitment to the coverage of the event.Coverage of Division I womens sports has been in a particularly bright spotlight in 2021 and the record-setting WCWS was just the latest example of growing interest and growing demands for a more equitable playing field when compared with mens events.ESPN has been experimenting in recent years with showing more womens sports on its various platforms, and good numbers have led the network to become more aggressive. Television viewership was up significantly compared to 2019 in the four most popular womens college sports basketball, softball, gymnastics and volleyball. The network expanded its volleyball coverage this year to include every match of the championship on an ESPN platform. The Walt Disney Co. owns ABC and ESPN, and Dawson said ESPN is pushing to get more sports programming onto Saturday afternoon spots on ABC. This year, ABC broadcast womens basketball games and a womens softball game for the first time. The womens gymnastics final on ABC averaged 808,000 viewers, a 510 increase over the 2019 final on ESPNU. Ripples of the increased exposure are being felt. According to the Social Blade social media analytics site, Alexander gained more than 50,000 Instagram followers within a week of her win over Oklahoma. She has since signed a professional contract with the USSSA Pride.There were enough places where that story was told this time around that shes reached a certain critical masse, said Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture. Shes penetrated the culture. That is the important part of that story.Alexanders story resonated on various levels. Shes a Black player in a largely white sport who knocked off the eventual national champion while playing for an upstart school. Im sure there have been great stories filled with all of these great narrative flourishes like hers that have been going on in womens sports for years, Thompson said, but people who would have loved those stories never hear them because there hasnt been a lot of space given.The average number of viewers for the three championship final games between Oklahoma and Florida State was a record 1,840,000, up 15 over 2019. The average for the 17-game WCWS was 1,203,000, up 10 over 2019 and numbers comparable to those from the mens College World Series in 2019. Finally, there is this recognition that if you show it, people will watch it, Thompson said. And theres been a lot of resistance to that to womens sports, probably because a lot of the people managing the media outlets, a lot of the people managing the various sports venues and so forth just assumed they couldnt get the kinds of numbers that they wanted.As the viewership numbers climbed, coaches used the broader platform to speak up. Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said changes were needed to make sure the sport makes positive strides as its popularity grows. She pointed out issues she had with t he WCWS format, saying adding off days, eliminating doubleheaders and ensuring that games end at reasonable times should be among the changes considered. Though ESPN and the NCAA converse on those issues, the NCAA Division I Softball Committee oversees the format and scheduling for the event. Ratings also were high for the womens basketball Final Four. The championship game drew 4,077,000 viewers the highest total since 2014 and up 9 from 2019. The semifinals averaged 2,850,000 viewers, the best numbers since 2012 and a 20 jump from 2019. The Final Four weekend numbers overall were up 14.The volleyball championship match between Kentucky and Texas averaged 696,000 viewers, up 28 from 2019. Kentuckys victory was the most-viewed telecast on ESPN2 for the month of April. The growth includes the number of sports getting exposure. ESPN added ice hockey, field hockey and cross country to the womens sports championship schedule in the spring, bringing the total number of womens championships the network broadcasts to 15.Dawson said ESPN will remain aggressive about expanding programming opportunities for womens sports. Thompson said that makes sense.For womens sports, there is lots and lots and lots of room for lots and lots and lots of growth, he said. If I were looking to invest in a genre of futures of American entertainment, womens sports would be close to the top of my list.Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/APSports

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