The best and most consistent source of sports drama over the past week has been Oklahoma City, home of the 2021 University Women’s World Series.
Wednesday night was no different. The top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners were in their last six outs, led 2-1 against Florida State with a first-place runner in the sixth inning of Game 2 of a best-of-three championship series, when their best batter went to the plate and took a powerful hit.
“Jocelyn Alo! Beth Mowins shouted, over the play-by-play mic, as the ball headed for the outfield seats. “Oklahoma is taking the lead! “
Jocelyn Alo’s 33rd HR of the season puts Oklahoma ahead #WCWS
(Beth Mowins just said Alo has scored all 5.4s in bats this year, which is the most absurd statistic I’ve ever heard)
(This also gave OU its 159th HR team this season, most of the time)
– Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) June 10, 2021
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It was a really exciting time. The home run gave Oklahoma a 3-2 lead and the Sooners added a few more, securing a 6-2 victory and forcing a Game 3 win-win on Thursday. The first pitch was set for 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2 (more on this in a moment).
It was just another moment in a University Women’s World Series that caught the attention of sports fans across the country.
🚨 #WCWS Championship Series offers the best match 1⃣ Recorded audience 🚨
Game 2⃣: Tonight | 7p ET | ESPN, ESPN app pic.twitter.com/5WALkQnxzi
– ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) June 9, 2021
Ratings are up because interest is up, and interest is up because the stories are compelling – and the stories are readily available. As Dani Wexelman – host of Sirius XM shows on MLB Network Radio (channel 89) and ESPNU (channel 84) – told Sporting News today, the people working behind the scenes have done a great job advocating for the softball players, with profiles and features help direct the spotlight where a spotlight has too often been missing in the past.
“The numbers prove that people are deliberately turning to varsity softball,” Wexelman said. “It’s not because there’s nothing else to watch, it’s because they want to watch, they want to support – and by the way, it’s some of the best athletic talent that you go to. see – and that’s why people are watching. It’s exciting.
“We missed a whole playoff series for spring sports, so there are eyeballs galore, not only because we were deprived of a championship for an entire season, but because the sport has grown so much and that people realize the importance of investing in young people. women.”
Wexelman co-hosts a WCWS post-game show with Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic. Their coverage of Game 3 begins on ESPNU Channel 84 at 5 p.m. ET. You can bet Wexelman and Auberbach spent a lot of time after Game 2 talking about that Alo home run.
“It’s scripted and it’s worthy of a dream, but it’s something Jocelyn Alo has had throughout his softball career,” Wexelman said. “Not only was it the green light last night to get them up 3-2, it was his 33rd of the season, his 87th career and 159th for the Sooners, breaking Hawaii’s record – where does it come from? Jocelyn Alo – which was established in 2010. And it was planned. I keep telling people to expect the unexpected with varsity softball. It was planned. She seized an opportunity and she the input.
Alo is not the only player to seize the opportunity. Odicci Alexander’s incredible efforts on the mound brought James Madison almost to the title game, not only with her arm as a pitcher – she pitched 64 2/3 of JMU’s 73 innings – but with her athleticism as a pitcher. as a player.
March Madness is making college basketball players legends, and with more eyeballs on WCWS, it’s happening more this year for softball players.
“That’s the beauty of activating the Women’s College World Series. It’s the best talent, the best players that come together and now we are falling in love not only with the athlete, but with the person, ”said Wexelman. “You look at the culmination of years – in the case of Jocelyn Alo, in the case of Odicci Alexander – of hard work, and now you can see their hero moment. Or someone like Tiare Jennings, who is the first year of the year for Oklahoma, and now you can watch it blossom for the next several years and watch its story unfold.
“Softball wins because you learn more about these women. It doesn’t matter if you turn on (for game 3) for the first time, or if you have watched all the games. … They get highlights, and rightly so.
For an event like this, broadcasting a game that is the culmination of an incredible season – especially after a season lost to the pandemic – at 3 p.m. ET on a Thursday is wrong.
“It’s a disservice to women who have worked hard to get to this point, to put them in a time slot that is not conducive to getting maximum eyeballs,” Wexelman said. “It could have been changed. It’s not set in stone that you need to air this on your channel right now. There is one person who could make the decision to say, “We’re going to change this. It is not set in stone. No one dies because we change what is on TV. So that you don’t give them a place in prime time in Game 3 – this is their Game 7! – a whole for the winner, and you are going to put them on a Thursday afternoon? It’s disappointing. I’m embarrassed that they couldn’t find something better. I am embarrassed for the NCAA that they cannot offer these women a better schedule, so that they have the opportunity to have Game 3 in prime time. I am embarrassed.”
Maybe things will change. Perhaps the WCWS 2021 audience records will convince the powers-that-be of the NCAA and ESPN that this event deserves broadcast times worthy of the competition, effort and intensity of the athletes and the coaches, up to the passion of the fans. Perhaps. With a bit of luck.
“I heard AJ Andrews the other day, and she said, ‘We don’t want to bet on women because that means they might lose, right? We want to invest in women. I thought it was so poignant because it’s true, ”Wexelman said. “Yes, I hope that will change. I hope everyone is listening. Not just hearing, but really listening to what everyone is saying about it. They display the numbers, and that’s what matters in the end. account. “