Parity and Interest Growing in College Softball
OKLAHOMA CITY – After the two press conferences yesterday involving the eight head coaches and some of the nation’s top players, college softball continues to grow in popularity with parity among the competition getting better and better.
That wasn’t the case in 1982 when the NCAA took over women’s softball, but it was only a question of time before the game evolved and got better and got better each year. That has happened as you would expect and of course showing the games ‘live” instead of tape delayed on TV has been a real boost to the sport’s popularity. People who might never attend a game at least have a chance to now see it ‘live” from Oklahoma City, and perhaps after watching it might consider making the journey to watch the event in person.
In the early years of the event, the eight teams would be broken down this way: Two or three really strong ones at the top with another two or three below with a couple other teams at the end. While the parity took time to develop and as college administrations decided to put money into building tremendous facilities, UCLA and Arizona dominated while the others fought it out for the remaining spots.
Now, while UCLA and Arizona have missed berths the last two years, other colleges and universities are rising to the occasion to get a berth in college softball’s premier event, which winds up the season on a high note. Of course, the schools that have been solid continue to remain and still get their annual berths in the WCWS, but newcomers are starting to get berths in the WCWS. South Florida is the newcomer in 2012 and Hofstra came close as more and more newcomers will get berths in the annual event.
Colleges and universities playing softball in the East have gotten better and despite usually getting a late start because of the weather, have often traveled to tournaments in warmer climates to improve their overall level of softball. It’s evident it is working as more and more teams in the East are certainly competitive and can give one of the perennial powers a game to remember. That’s good for the overall development of the sport and the thousands of fans who annually come to Oklahoma City to watch the nation’s best college softball players.
College softball will only get better in the future, and who knows what will happen with the bid to get the sport back on the Olympic program. It should never have been taken off the program in the first place, but that’s another story. College softball will only continue to get better and Oklahoma City has proven to be an ideal site and host for this event, which could exceed 80,000 fans in the near future. Hopefully, before that point, renovations will have been made to the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, which has hosted the event all but one year (1996) since 1990. There is a need for additional seating as the event attracts more fans, and especially media coverage, with families planning their vacations around their event if they have a daughter or relative playing.
College softball is more than worth the price of admission and will only gain in popularity in the years ahead. Hopefully renovations will be made to increase the seating at the stadium and they will continue to have the event there. The WCWS needs to remain there and history has shown that people enjoy coming to Oklahoma City. The people hosting the event do an outstanding job year in and year out. Oklahoma City has developed into the Mecca of college softball just as Omaha is the home of the NCAA baseball College World Series.