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Girlfriend of late Marlins ace Jose Fernandez gives birth to girl

The late Marlins pitching ace Jose Fernandez would be a father of a baby girl today if he had survived a September boat crash off Miami Beach.

Fernandez’s girlfriend, Maria Arias, gave birth Friday night to Penelope, with whom she was pregnant when Fernandez died Sept. 25, The Miami Herald reported.

>>Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez has died

Fernandez, who was 24 when he died, chose his daughter’s name last summer when he and Arias learned they were expecting, the Miami Herald said.

University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield arrested

University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was taken into police custody early Saturday morning after an alleged incident in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Officers say someone reported that Mayfield was intoxicated, yelling profanities and causing a scene.

An arrest report states that Mayfield told officers he was trying to break up an altercation there.

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When officers talked to Mayfield, they reportedly found his speech was slurred and his clothing was covered in food.

They said the OU football player even sprinted away from police at one point, prompting the officer to tackle him to the ground and handcuff him.Mayfield was booked into the Washington County Detention Facility in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

He faces charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest.

"We are aware of the matter and are learning the details. We don't have any other information at this time," said Mike Houck, Oklahoma team spokesman. 

Mayfield is a sophomore at the university. He was short-listed for the Heisman Trophy last year.

ESPN writer predicts another 8-4 season for Pitt

Earlier this offseason, ESPN ranked Pitt's 2017 football non-conference schedule the most difficult in all of the FBS. The Panthers have been 8-4 each of the past two years and despite the difficult slate, ESPN's Jared Shanker sees more of the same next year.

Projected W-L: The Panthers lose a lot of important pieces, especially on offense, and the schedule is among the toughest in the country. The defense should eventually get better under Pat Narduzzi, but the unit doesn't have the benefit of playing Oklahoma State and Penn State later in the season. The same goes for an offense breaking in a transfer quarterback and new offensive coordinator. A third straight 8-4 regular season is a safe wager.

It's hard to disagree with that. I do think the potential exists for nine wins. Youngstown State, Georgia Tech, Rice, Syracuse, North Carolina State, Duke, and Virginia all look very winnable. Pitt may not be favored in games against North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Miami but you wouldn't write them off in those contests. And while Penn State and Oklahoma State will be very tough games, after beating the Nittany Lions and Clemson this season, no one should say those are guaranteed losses, either.

Eight wins looks like a pretty safe bet to me and I don't think nine is out of the question at all.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Against the Odds: UNC is a solid eight point favorite over Pitt

Pitt looks for revenge on the top-10 North Carolina Tar Heels this afternoon.

Head coach Roy Williams brings North Carolina into Oakland for Pitt’s final home game of the season. Sheldon Jeter, Chris Jones, Jamel Artis, and Michael Young will try for their biggest win of the season in their last time playing in front of The Zoo. A win would give their fading NCAA Tournament hopes a shot in the arm. UNC rolls in ranked eighth in the country in both polls and Vegas has installed them as a eight point favorite for today’s contest.

Pitt is coming off a tough loss against Wake Forest, where they shot an abysmal 4-24 in the second half. The Panthers look to rebound from that loss and from a tough one the last time these two teams collided. North Carolina took that game 80-78, with Artis missing a three pointer at the buzzer. That game stopped a trend of Pitt playing like they’d rather be anywhere other than on the court. It wasn’t enough as UNC’s talent shined through.

North Carolina’s has a record of 24-5 and 12-3 in the conference and would love to lock down a top seed in the post-season. The game will tip off at high noon in Oakland and you would expect the home crowd to give these seniors a lif.t They will have all the help they will need getting up for this game. No matter how this season has gone, there should be a good effort today, but will it be enough to pull off another upset?

Pitt sorely needs this one to have any shot at the Big Dance and the ones after, which would give them plenty of nice resume wins. The bubble is weak, but not weak enough for the Panthers to lose many more games than they already have. The ACC conference schedule will only hold so much weight with the selection committee.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

No. 19 Pitt softball suffers first loss of year, falling 1-0 to Lipscomb

After a 9-0 start, the No. 19 ranked Pitt softball team suffered its first defeat of the year, losing to Lipscomb, 1-0. The Panthers later routed Southeastern Louisiana, winning 10-4 to move to 10-1 on the year.

Even in defeat, the team again got great starting pitching. The team's top starter, Kayla Harris, was dominant throughout. Her only flaw was giving up a solo home run, which was only one of two hits she gave up on the day. Unfortunately, the offense stalled and that was the difference. Brittany Knight again turned in a decent performance on the mound in the team's second game (three runs inf five innings). Sarah Dawson, a starter last year, continued to work out of the bullpen. The three have a combined 1.66 ERA and Knight's 1.81 is the highest on the team.

Pitt has three more games over the weekend as part of the Troy Tournament.

The loss is a disappointing one, of course. But it's also not the end of the world and it also was another reminder that the team can be right in games despite a lack of offense.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt wrestling up a spot in the polls after Duke win

With the regular season now complete, there was one more set of polls due to come out before postseason action. The Panthers had been No. 24 in the rankings and got a slight bump up this week to No. 23.

The move up came after the Panthers topped Duke, 28-9.

Pitt has this weekend off then heads to the ACC Tournament where wrestlers will be hoping to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

The Panthers have had a pretty tumultuous year. In addition to some injuries, the team lost its head coach in the middle of the year and finished only 2-3 in conference. All things considered, it was nice to see them be able to stick in the Top 25 for the last regular season poll

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt blows lead and drops game to Wake Forest, 63-59

Despite playing on the road against a team that needed this game as badly as the Panthers to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, I felt that Pitt had a pretty good chance to win Tuesday's game against Wake Forest. The Panthers had won three out of four and were fresh off a double-digit win against No. 17 Florida State this weekend.

At one point, Pitt held a 19-point lead and seemed poised to take the game. But after yet another late collapse, they go home 63-59 losers. Full disclosure here in that I didn't see the game. From the gamethread and checking out the play-by-play afterwards, it looks as if I benefited from that.

The frustration with this team is entirely justified, of course. Blowing 19-point leads against beatable teams is sort of ridiculous. And when you consider all of the leads they've lost or nearly lost this year, it's even more incredulous. And I can't even go down the Kevin Stallings rabbit hole right now.

This is less about their ability to make the NCAA Tournament (which I wrote earlier that they could even with 14 losses) right now and more about what they've shown they are at this point. Can Pitt still technically make the NCAA Tournament? Well, if they won their last three games and took one in the ACC Tournament, maybe. But when you consider the reality of that with a team that just blew a 19-point lead to a team that is in the same exact position they are and one of the ACC's weaker teams, then I don't know you how you justify that such a run is possible.

I remember thinking at one point this week that I would love to see this team squeak into the NCAA Tournament because they've shown they can play when they're running on all cylinders. But for whatever reason, this team simply can't hold leads. I still believe that if they got into the NCAAs they could put together a two-game run and make a Sweet 16. But when you think about it, just about any P5 program (and many mid-majors) can do that, too, if they play their best. While this team has some talent at the top, stringing off two wins to advance to the second weekend isn't really something exclusive only to them.

In the end, Pitt likely to be undone by their refusal or ability (I can't quite decide which yet) to put teams away. I'm not sure if this is a team that runs out of gas or a team that simply gets disinterested. I'm inclined to believe it's the latter but, knowing the position they were in absolutely needing a win and having so many sizable leads blown or nearly blown this year, it's sort of mind-boggling that disinterest continues to take over.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt softball team up to No. 19/20 in latest rankings and receives first-place vote

Last week, the Pitt softball team got into the college softball rankings for the first time in program history. The Panthers won four games this past weekend against Northwestern and Nebraska and with a 9-0 start to the season, were bumped up several spots in the latest polls.

This week, the softball checks in at No. 19 in the USA Today poll and No. 20 in the ESPN poll. Those polls ranked Pitt No. 24 and No. 25 last week, so they jumped up five spots in each poll.

Of some importance is that Pitt not only moved up several spots but also managed to get a first-place vote in the coaches poll. Yep. First place.

Now, I have no idea if coach Holly Aprile has a vote or not but if so, we might have our source. If it wasn't Aprile, I'd love to know who slotted the Panthers that high. The Pitt article states that one coach from each conference has a vote so it's far from a given that Aprile is that representative, obviously.

Regardless of if it was Aprile or not, this is exactly why I've said for some time that coaches shouldn't be voting in a poll. Outside of inducing some raised eyebrows from outsiders, there's zero incentive to not give your team a favorable ranking and that poll, along with the ESPN poll, is obviously a determining factor in teams getting into the NCAA Tournament and where they are slotted.

That said, I cannot be more clear about this: If it was Aprile who voted the team No. 1, I have absolutely zero problem with it. Just like I would have zero problem with a coach of a team with a terrible record voting their team in the top 25. At the end of the day, a coach's job is to put their team in the best position to succeed as long as it's within the rules. And that success determines the stability of their job. As long as the poll exists, coaches in it using it to their advantage are well within their rights to help not only their teams, but themselves. Some would argue, even, that a coach not using it to his/her advantage isn't fully doing their job.

This weekend, the Panthers will play a combined five games against Southeastern University, Troy, and Lipscomb. Each of those teams have decent records so far but all have at least two losses right now, too, including a few to not-so-great teams. Pitt might not win all five games but the chance of that happening seems quite reasonable.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Against the Odds: Wake Forest is a solid favorite over Pitt

Sometimes Vegas knows best when we see unusual lines and this may be the case with Pitt and Wake Forest. Let’s hope not.

Sometimes when I see a line that doesn’t make sense, I just tell myself, “Vegas must know something.” Let’s hope not for tonight’s game between Wake Forest and Pitt. Vegas has installed Wake as a 6.5 point favorite this evening, despite the recent strong play of the Panthers. Both teams are in desperate need of a win to keep their very slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive. I can’t believe I just said that this late in the season about Pitt.

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. in Winston-Salem, NC. Danning Manning brings his Demon Deacons in with a 15-12 record and 6-9 in the conference. However Wake has dropped three of it’s last four, while the Panthers are reversed in that regard. Maybe it is that the game will take place on Wake’s campus at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum that has Vegas thinking this way.

Maybe Vegas sees a distinct advantage over Pitt in the paint with sophomore forward John Collins. Collins is averaging close to a double-double this season. The 6’10” big man is dropping 19.0 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per contest. Sheldon Jeter, Mike Young, and others will have their hands full and keeping him under control is priority number one for Kevin Stallings crew.

This is a big one for both teams in the terms of ACC seeding and, as mentioned, the Big Dance. Win and you keep your hopes alive. Lose and you keep putting yourself in a bad, bad spot in the eyes of the committee. Not sure many thought this would be a big game heading into the season. But it is and Pitt can put itself in good position with another upset tonight.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

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