The finest, most constant supply of sporting drama the previous week has been Oklahoma City, house of the 2021 Women’s College World Series.
Wednesday evening was no totally different. The top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners had been all the way down to their closing six outs, trailing 2-1 to Florida State with one runner on first within the sixth inning of Game 2 of a best-of-three championship sequence, when their finest hitter stepped to the plate and took a mighty swing.
“Jocelyn Alo!” yelled Beth Mowins, on the play-by-play mic, because the ball shot towards the outfield seats. “Oklahoma takes the lead!”
Jocelyn Alo’s thirty third HR of the season provides Oklahoma the lead 💣 #WCWS
(Beth Mowins simply mentioned Alo has homered each 5.4 at bats this yr, which is essentially the most absurd stat I’ve ever heard 🥎)
(This additionally gave OU its 159th group HR this season, most ever)
— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) June 10, 2021
It was a really thrilling second. The house run gave Oklahoma a 3-2 lead and the Sooners would add a couple of extra, securing a 6-2 victory and forcing a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday. First pitch was set for 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2 (extra on that in a second).
It was simply one other second in a Women’s College World Series that’s captured the eye of sports activities followers throughout the nation.
🚨 #WCWS Championship Series Boasts Best Game 1⃣ Audience on Record 🚨
Game 2⃣: Tonight | 7p ET | ESPN, ESPN App pic.twitter.com/5WALkQnxzi
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) June 9, 2021
Ratings are up as a result of curiosity is up, and curiosity is up as a result of the tales are compelling — and the tales are available. As Dani Wexelman — host of Sirius XM reveals on MLB Network Radio (Channel 89) and ESPNU (Channel 84) — instructed Sporting News at present, the individuals working behind the scenes have executed an amazing job advocating for the softball gamers, with profiles and options serving to to steer the highlight the place a highlight has too typically been absent up to now.
“The numbers prove that people are purposely turning on college softball,” Wexelman mentioned. “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’re going to see — and that’s why people are watching. It’s exciting.
“We missed an entire postseason for spring sports, so there are eyeballs galore, not only because we’ve been deprived of a championship for an entire season, but because the sport has grown so much and people are realizing the importance of investing in young women.”
Wexelman is co-hosting a WCWS postgame present together with The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach. Their Game 3 protection begins on ESPNU Channel 84 at 5 p.m. ET. You can wager Wexelman and Auberbach spent lots of time after Game 2 speaking about that Alo house run.
“It’s scripted and it’s dream-worthy, but it’s something that Jocelyn Alo has had coming for her entire softball career,” Wexelman mentioned. “Not only was it the go-ahead last night to get them up 3-2, it was her 33rd of the season, her 87th career and the 159th for the Sooners, breaking Hawaii’s record — where Jocelyn Alo is from — that was set back in 2010. And it was expected. I keep telling people to expect the unexpected with college softball. This was expected. She steps up with an opportunity and she took it.”
Alo isn’t the one participant seizing the second. Odicci Alexander’s unimaginable efforts on the mound lifted James Madison practically to the title recreation, not simply along with her arm as a pitcher — she threw 64 2/3 of JMU’s 73 innings — however along with her athleticism as a participant.
March Madness makes legends of school basketball gamers, and with extra eyeballs on the WCWS, that’s taking place extra this yr for softball gamers.
“That’s the beauty of turning on the Women’s College World Series. It’s the best talent, the best players coming together and now we get to fall in love with not only the athlete, but the person,” Wexelman mentioned. “You’re watching the culmination of years — in Jocelyn Alo’s case, in Odicci Alexander’s case — of hard work, and now you can see their hero moment. Or someone like Tiare Jennings, who’s the freshman of the year for Oklahoma, and now you get to watch her flourish for the next several years and watch her 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’ve been watching every game. … They’re getting spotlight moments, and deservedly so.”
For an occasion like this, broadcasting a recreation that’s the end result of an unimaginable season — particularly after a season misplaced to the pandemic — at 3 p.m. ET on a Thursday is unsuitable.
“It’s a disservice to the women who have worked their asses off to make it to this point, to put them in a time slot that is not conducive for getting max amount of eyeballs,” Wexelman mentioned. “That could have been changed. It is not set in stone that you have to air this on your channel at this time. There’s a person who could make a decision to say, ‘We’re going to change this.’ It is not set in stone. No one dies because we change what’s on the television. For you to not give them the prime-time spot in Game 3 — this is their Game 7! — a winner-take-all, and you’re going to put them on in the afternoon on a Thursday? It’s disappointing. I’m embarrassed that they couldn’t figure out something better. I’m embarrassed for the NCAA that they couldn’t give these women a better schedule, so they’d have the opportunity to have Game 3 in prime time. I’m embarrassed.”
Maybe issues will change. Maybe the document scores for the 2021 WCWS will persuade the powers-that-be on the NCAA and ESPN that this occasion deserves broadcast instances price of the competitors and energy and depth put forth by the athletes and coaches, matched by the fervour of the followers. Maybe. Hopefully.
“I heard A.J. Andrews the other day, and she said, ‘We don’t want to bet on women because that means that they could lose, right? We want to invest in women.’ I thought that was so poignant because it’s true,” Wexelman mentioned. “Yeah, I have hope that it will change. I hope everyone is listening. Not just hearing, but truly listening to what everyone is saying about it. They’re putting up the numbers, and that’s what matters at the end of the day.”