I love watching the Women’s College World Series and I am not afraid to admit it. I find myself watching it on ESPN2 every year. I guess I first got into it while I was at Michigan and had a friend on the team. I went to a couple of games but never really followed it intensely. Two years ago while channel surfing I stumbled upon a game in a round before the finals. The fact that Michigan happened to be involved piqued my interest and the announcers notified me of the upcoming broadcasts for the championship games. Michigan won and moved on and I tuned in to see an amazing extra innings game against favorite UCLA. That year Michigan prevailed and obtained their first NCAA women’s softball championship.
Since then I run into softball while channel surfing in June and always try to stop to catch up on what’s happening, and to see how Michigan has fared. It’s not just Michigan that keeps me watching, it’s the game itself. Obviously there is some bit of novelty in catching a sport that is on TV rarely (see track and field, olympics) but if it were only that I’d tune into bowling and arena football. The size of the field and the influence of the pitcher are two of the most stark differences between the women’s game and the men’s. Every year at least one team seems to make it through to the finals on the arm of an insanely tall pitcher with braided hair and a cyclone delivery. This wunder-pitcher will usually throw every pitch of a WCWS for her team, which I assume makes the trip to OK City a little boring for other pitchers. The main pitches of interest are the change up and the riseball, and the ball reaches the plate faster than in the MLB. Nonetheless the girls still add another degree of difficulty by moving toward the mound as the pitch arrives. This is the drag bunt, where players are halfway to first by the time the ball is hit. It seems a great strategic move on the shortened field but the fielders still make the plays and get them out with regularity.
This year Tennessee had the wunder-pitcher in senior Monica Abbott, but failed to seal the deal against Arizona after winning the first game in the best of 3 series. If you happen upon it next year I recommend checking out the WCWS, it beats arena football.