Well, televised games start THIS WEEKEND on the ESPN family of networks. The first game will be #7 Tennessee @ #3 Florida this Saturday, March 16 on ESPNU at 11am ET. These are two teams going up against each other who just this past week, both defeated Alabama, as Florida gave Alabama their first loss over a week ago in a mid week Wednesday game, and Tennessee beat Alabama 2/3 in their series this past weekend in Knoxville. Before last week, Alabama was ranked #2 in the nation and was undefeated. So far there has been some great matchups and upsets along the way and it’s only going to continue as we move through the season. If you know me at all, you know this is my favorite time of year. I love being able to follow the teams, the players, the seniors, the freshmen and seeing which teams are living up to expectations, and which teams are falling short. It’s so interesting to see when different teams will peak in the season, each team trying not to hit their peak too early in the year.
ESPN is putting more regular season games on TV than they ever have in the past. Year after year the amount of televised collegiate games is growing across all networks, and it’s really cool to see. This year in the booth for ESPN during the regular season you will be able to catch 6 softball analysts calling the games at any given time: Myself, Jessica Mendoza, Michele Smith, Jennie Finch, Cheri Kempf & Garland Cooper. For a complete game schedule of ALL televised games on the ESPN Family of Networks: CLICK HERE
Other sites I use for good college softball info:
Great week by week information of who is hot and which teams are playing best. Graham Hays is someone who knows his stuff, always enjoy reading about what he has to say and he covers which teams week by week are playing best.
This is where you can find the college polls (rankings) and also who is the National Player of the Week. Every week there is a new National Player of the Week and a new top 25 Poll.
Want to know where your team or favorite player ranks statistically in the nation? Click there. Individual statistical rankings (ex. Lauren Chamberlain’s batting average) and team statistical rankings (ex. Oklahoma’s team batting average.) There are all kinds of stats you can see ERA, home runs per game, batting average, stolen bases, walks, on base %). The first rankings for this season just came out this week, and they will update weekly.
Some fun stats for this week:
The highest on base % in the nation goes to Devon Wallace, who plays for Arkansas. She gets on base almost 7/10 times with an OB % of .691.
The lowest team ERA goes to Oklahoma, whose team ERA is .80. With the amount of great competition and the amount of top 25 teams Oklahoma has faced this year, that is a an amazingly low ERA. And it does not just have to do with senior All American pitcher, Kelani Ricketts. She is ranked 5th in the country with an ERA of .87 in 80 Innings Pitched , however, Oklahoma has another senior left handed pitcher, Michelle Gascoigne who actually is leading the entire country with a .70 ERA in almost 60 Innings Pitched.
So why should you watch softball on TV?
Being able to watch college softball on TV can be used as a valuable learning experience in so many different ways for players and for families. Below are 3 reasons if you’re a young player or a softball family, you should watch as many collegiate games on TV as you possibly can.
1. Create goals, inspire dreams
With the amount of college softball games on TV, young players are able to see role models right before their eyes playing the game they love at a higher level. Being able to watch it on TV can put the dream right in front of them that they, too, one day, may be able to make it to that level and be able to compete at the game they love. Our game of softball has come so far, and a major reason is the amount of games that are now being televised. By watching these games, young players can be inspired to create a goal in their mind of a future level they want to compete at. It’s so important to have these futuristic dreams to have something to work towards and look forward to. It’s the dreams and goals that push you every time you go out to practice to become better. Every day at practice you are either becoming better or worse. By watching these collegiate games, players are able to visually see other who have achieved their dreams, and make goals to some day be playing on that same field.
2. Learn about colleges who are recruiting you or colleges you think you have an interest in dreaming of playing at.
I personally love being able to be a part of these televised games becuase I get to learn so much about different programs from across the country. I get to meet with their coaches, somtimes even their players and ask them a lot of questions and really try to dig deep to learn about their programs and what kind of program the coach is trying to build or has already built.
Watching two teams go up against each other in a televised game is a great way for YOU to learn about a school’s program, too. You get to watch the coaches, you get to watch how the players swing & pitch, you get to watch how the teams act in the dugout and how they take the field. There are so many different variables that define a program other than their wins & losses record. If you’re REALLY watching a game, you can pick up on a lot by the attitudes and body languages of a team. Things to look at:
– How do the players wear their uniform (is it wrinkly? is the shirt untucked? is it sloppy looking?)
– When the team gets down, do they fight until the end of the 7th inning, or do they give up once they got down?
– How do the players interact with each other?
– How does the coach interact with the team?
– What is their energy like throughout the entire game?
Who is your favorite team? What do they LOOK like on the field?
These might seem like small things, but it’s all the small things that add up to big things and really characterize a school’s program. When you are actually playing college softball, it becomes less about the statistical numbers that make you a player and a team, but more about what is going on outside of those things that make the heartbeat of a team and program. By watching as many games as you can, you’re able to get an understanding of each team you watch simply by paying attention to the energy of the players and the energy of the coaches. Also, not to mention, during the broadcasts, there are usually stories about the team and their coaches, maybe even possible human interest stories that can also help you get to know a team. If you are getting recruited by different colleges across the country, try to watch them as much as possible in person and/or on TV if you get the chance. If you do not know where you are wanting to go to college, watch different games and see if you can get the “feel” of a team through the TV screen to see if they gain your interest in the way that they are playing the game. Watch the games on TV for more than just balls and strikes. Look deeper and you can learn.
3. Same Game, Different Stage – They make mistakes too (good for players AND parents to realize this)
When you’re a young player, an error or giving up a homerun feels like the end of the world. – It feels the same the exact same way for a college player, trust me. You struck out looking? – College players do that too…but instead of never hearing the end of it from their parents, it’s their coach who gives them an evil eye as they run back to the dugout. Same feeling, different authority. You have players on your team who sometimes don’t run a fly ball out? – SAME THING still happens in college! (maybe just not as much)
You see, this game…is the exact same…just with bigger girls, further homeruns and smaller strikezones. By young players being able to see these televised games, they can see that even the college players are human and make mistakes, too. Young players, especially young girls, feel like they get people down when they are not absolutely perfect on the playing field. If they are able to see their role models make mistakes on the same field, it makes them better, and puts less pressure on them the next time they are going out to go play a game. Less pressure on yourself = more fun = better results = more wins.
When I say that this is the same game, I mean to the “t” this is the exact same game no matter if you are in a rec league, on a tournament team or play in college. A leadoff walk more times than not, will lead to a run. A pitcher falling behind in the count means a hitter will be more aggressive on a 2-0/2-1 count. A ball missed down the middle of the plate will get hit well.
More importantly than the young girls being able to watch these players make mistakes, is the importance of the parents being able to see an All American hitter strike out and a Player of the Year have a homerun hit off of her. In being around this game at so many different levels, parents get so ashamed of their kids when they are in the stands if they make an error or do something that is not actually benefitting the team. Remember as a parent, these older girls are making the exact same mistakes – and it will never go away for as long as you’re around the game. Remember that when something happens in a negative light to your daughter, it’s not a reflection on YOU at all, unless you make it about you with the way that you react. Take the attention off of you in the stands and put that energy into how you are going to make your daughter feel better about herself by the words you say after the game, the body language you have during the game and the efforts you are going to take with her AFTER the game to make her a better player and to make her feel better about herself.
Watch these games to dream. Watch these games to learn. Watch these games to take pressure off of yourself. Enjoy getting to learn about the NCAA Division 1 college season and have favorite players and teams to root them on. All of the girls on the field have been in the same position as all of you young players and they worked their tail off to make it to this collegiate level. They, too, had a goal of playing at the next level. They also are just like you and have parents who are just like yours. THe games you are watching through the television screen is the same game you are playing in all different aspects.