The Range

We Are the Champions!

The UA softball team fought back after losing the first game of the Women's College World Series, defeating the Lady Vols of Tennessee in their next two games to win the crown. After the Cats lost 3-0 on Monday, June 4, the two teams the next day engaged in a nail-biter of a pitcher's duel that went 10 innings before Danielle Rodriguez squeezed across the plate just ahead of the tag on a grounder by Adrienne Acton. In Wednesday's game, the Cats unloaded with a five-run fifth inning, capped by Chelsie Mesa's three-run homer, to win 5-0.

The series featured an amazing pitching performance by junior Taryne Mowatt, who pitched every single inning of the Wildcats' post-season. How's this for astonishing: Mowatt, who set a record with 42 wins this season (suck on that, Big Unit!), threw more than 1,000 pitches over eight games in a week.

Congrats to the Wildcats and coach Mike Candrea, who is leaving the team next year--temporarily, we hope!--to coach the U.S. Olympic team.

Say It Ain't So, Jay!

In not-so-happy sports news: Tucson Sidewinders owner Jay Zucker has sold the team to New York City investors. The 'Winders, triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks and last year's Pacific Coast League champions, will likely end up moving to Reno, Nev., after the 2008 season, leaving Tucson without a minor-league baseball franchise.

Attendance at the Sidewinders games has averaged around 4,000 a game, one of the lowest in the Pacific Coast League. We blame the lousy fan support on the 1998 move from Hi Corbett Field to Tucson Electric Park; that's why we stopped going to every homestand. But it didn't take long for a reader at the Tucson Citizen Web site to blame the decision to sell and move the franchise on illegal immigration.

We're sure the lack of fan support for a championship baseball team doesn't bode well for the hockey or arena football franchise planned for the new downtown arena.

Clipping Tehran's Wings

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' bill to ban the sale or export of parts for F-14 jet fighters passed a voice vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The only country still flying the F-14 is Iran, which got a fleet of the planes back in the good ol' days when it was a U.S. ally before the 1979 Islamic revolution. The country needs the parts to keep the jets in the air.

The Government Accounting Office has reported serious problems tracking the sale of surplus military equipment, including F-14 parts.

Giffords said banning the sale of the parts would prevent them from falling into Iranian hands.

"Congress simply cannot let this happen," Giffords press-released after the vote. "A hostile Iran represents a grave threat to our country and to the stability of the Middle East. The last thing we want--the last thing the world wants--is for Iran to be more of a threat than it is now."

Elsewhere in Washington, Congressman Raul Grijalva introduced the Borderlands Conservation and Security Act of 2007, which is designed to address the environmental impact of increased border security by having federal land agencies work more closely with Homeland Security.

"Many of these lands have suffered extensive environmental degradation as a result of unauthorized activity and border security efforts," Grijalva press-released. "This bill is the first step in preserving our unique natural heritage while we protect our borders."

Seeing Red Planet

Sure, we're all snapping great vacation pics with our digital cameras these days. But they can't match the photos being taken by the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter under the control of the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. The HiRISE team has redesigned their Web site to make it even easier for you to check out the way-cool photos of Mars being transmitted back to Earth every day as part of the interplanetary mission. Check it out online.

Construction Warning

Stay clear of Interstate 10 through downtown for the next, oh, three years or so. The Arizona Department of Transportation has wrapped the prep work and is finally ready to start widening the interstate, which means all exits between 29th Street and Prince Road will be closed through 2010.

ADOT warns: "Expect traffic delays, and please exercise patience, caution and courtesy."

For commuters who need to get between Marana and downtown, Sun Tran has set up express bus service that leaves the Arizona Pavilions and stops at various downtown locations.

In other downtown transportation news: As part of the rebuilding of the Fourth Avenue underpass, the Tucson Transportation Department has reduced Broadway Boulevard to two lanes between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

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