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Blog #4: The Need For A League of Their Own (Part 2)

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The Oklahoma City Zoo is located only 2.5 miles from my childhood home. It was one of the top zoos in the nation, but it was surrounded by little else; only the little-know Softball Hall of Fame Museum and a main “stadium” surrounded by adjoining softball fields. I had been by there a few times before graduating from high school, but I never gave it a second thought. As a young adult I spent a few summers playing softball with a few games at the complex, where they had actually expanded the seating to accommodate maybe 3000 fans at the stadium, and it was pretty cool to play in the mostly empty stadium. While there, I did finally notice that the NCAA Women’s Softball Championships were played there, and by 2000 ESPN began televising the double-elimination tournament, and I began watching bits and pieces. I enjoyed both the games and the ever-expanding coverage so much that by 2010 I was locked in as every game was televised in its entirety on the main channel. I also attended more than a few games in person as the stadium was expanded to accommodate over 8000 fans, and attendance gradually grew to capacity. The Championships were definitely in growth mode.

There are many great things about women’s sports in general and the Women’s College World Series in particular. First, these ladies compete very hard and they are committed to their craft, and it shows in the effort that they give and the talent that they display. Second, they’re generally very nice to look at, because the majority of them are very fit as well as pretty (please take this compliment in the spirit that it is intended, for I do have a daughter that will be 24 years old very soon). Women’s sports have come a long way since the Steroid Era of the 1970s, and ladies in sport do not have to sacrifice femininity for performance, thank God. The best examples of this are Tennis, Golf, Figure Skating, Track and Field, Gymnastics, Swimming, Diving, Volleyball, Field Hockey along with Softball. Hockey requires pads, but if Women’s Basketball and Soccer players would dress in more feminine uniforms instead of baggy clothes as men do, I submit that the WNBA and World Class Soccer would be a lot more popular. I realize that this may come off as sexist, but is it any different than using sex appeal in movies, television, advertising or any other type of entertainment? I believe strongly that all assets need to be utilized within reason to increase appeal. Within reason.

The most important thing is the joy that the ladies generally exhibit while competing, and that is the biggest departure from their male contemporaries. As much as I enjoy men’s sports at the highest levels, there are more than enough examples of boorishness, sullenness and outright contempt displayed by male athletes who act like they are doing fans a favor with their great performance instead of appreciating the fan support that they receive. That situation is much less likely among the fairer sex, and it is a joy to watch. During the CWS, when the manager comes out to talk to their pitcher, both dugouts empty and the players lead their fans in chants, whether ahead or behind; and they mostly show grace and smile while competing, no matter the situation. When they do lose, they don’t pout or act out but they may cry, and the emotion is genuine, and when they do win, they don’t strut or show off but their happiness is infectious and real. When watching a NBA or NFL Playoff game, I can feel exhilaration and joy as well as disgust, despair as well as irritation over certain things. Watching the CWS for me is mostly exhilaration and joy.

And now, the games. You know how we do it here. Scores and statistics are readily available in many places; we prefer to capture the essence of the competition and to give you a bird’s-eye view of the proceedings. To see the whole board and enjoy the natural drama that sports has in droves. So, with that, here’s how events played out on a daily basis:

Thursday, June 3
Opening Round
With both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State making it to Oklahoma City, crowds filled the newly expanded (13K+) stadium for the opening session, and continued to fill it for every session. If both State schools win their opening game, another Bedlam game takes place the next day,
G1: James Madison 4, (1) Oklahoma 3 – JMU jumps out ahead on a 3-run HR by Sarah Jubas in the 3rd before Tiare Jennings hits a 3-run HR to tie the game in the bottom of the same inning. JMU P Oddeci Alexander and OU P Shannon Sale shut out each team through 7 before Kate Gordon’s solo HR gave JMU the win.
G2: (5) Oklahoma State 3, Georgia 2 – OSU’s Cheyenne Factor’s 2-run HR leads the Cowgirls past the game Lady Bulldogs.
G3: (3) Alabama 5, (11) Arizona 1 – Alabama’s 3-run 5th was the difference.
G4: (2) UCLA 4, Florida State 0 – Maya Brady’s (Tom’s niece) 2-run HR and P Rachel Garcia’s shutout powered the Lady Bruins to victory

Friday, June 4
Winner’s Bracket
No Bedlam, but no problem. Two fantastic pitching performances.
G5: James Madison 2, (5) Oklahoma State 1 – For the second day in a row, JMU P Oddeci Alexander beat a State team in OKC. Her tag out at the plate in the 6th inning on top of her pitching was sensational as an unseeded team goes 2-0 for the first time.
G6: (3) Alabama 6, (2) UCLA 0 – UA P Montana Fouts no-hits UCLA in impressive fashion with help from Kaylee Tow’s 3-run HR.

Saturday, June 5
Elimination Saturday
The first four teams to play will have to win four straight games to make it to the Championship Series, while the other two teams have to win three straight to get there. The last game finished at 2:18am CDT due to rain delays.
G7: (1) Oklahoma 8, Georgia 0 – The Bash Sisters wake up as Tiare Jennings, Jocelyn Alo and Mackenzie Donihoo all homer for OU while P Giselle Juarez shuts out UGA for a Run Rule victory after 6 innings.
G8: Florida State 4. (11) Arizona 3 – FSU wins with a walk-off sacrifice fly by Cassidy Davis, scoring Kaley Mudge.
G9: (1) Oklahoma 10, (2) UCLA 3 – The Sooners avenge their 2019 Championship Series loss to the Defending Champion Lady Bruins. OU’s Donihoo homered as the they batted around in the 6th inning. P G Juarez wins again.
G10: Florida State 4, (5) Oklahoma State 2 – OSU is eliminated as P Kathryn Sandercock gives up only 2 runs, both unearned while Anna Shelnutt homers for FSU.

Sunday, June 6
Survival Sunday
Because of the rain delays and the late finish to Elimination Saturday, if both G13 and G14 are necessary, they will be played on Monday. It was necessary because both Winners Bracket winners on Friday lost. Thank you for putting the ladies first, NCAA.
G11: (1) Oklahoma 6; James Madison 3 – OU’s Jennings led off with a HR that led to a 3-0 lead. JMU’s Jubas tied the game with a 3-run HR before a 2-run HR by Kenzie Hansen in the 5th as OU Ps Shannon Sale and Nicole May combined to shut JMU down the rest of the way.
G12: Florida State 2, (3) Alabama 0 – FSU Ps Caylan Arnold and Sandercock combined to shut out the Crimson Tide.

Monday, June 7
Survival Monday
The extra day of rest led to all of the best players being available for both teams which led to even better play. The sellout crowds continued to pack OKC’s Hall of Fame Stadium while the ratings continue to rise on ESPN and Social Media traffic exploded.
G13: (1) Oklahoma 7; James Madison 1 – After giving up a HR on the first pitch of the game, OU P G Juarez shut JMU down on 3 hits as the Bash Sisters finally chased JMU’s Oddeci Alexander with a HR from “Hammerin” Jocelyn Alo in the 6th inning after a big 5th as the Sooner crowd in OKC cheered wildly. After an incredible tournament performance in which she pitched every inning that her team played, the now spent Alexander teared up on the mound as she gave up the ball and left to the cheers of the crowd. The drama was as good as it gets.
G14: Florida State 8, (3) Alabama 5 – FSU’s Elizabeth Mason’s HR led the 12-hit attack while Bailey Hemphill’s HR led UA in an elimination effort...

Continued on Part 3


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Updated 08-05-2021 at 07:50 PM by K SUMP ON SPORTS

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