TV Viewers Flock To Softball Over Baseball

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

INDIANAPOLIS — The 2015 NCAA Women’s Softball College World Series’ 3-game Championship Series drew 35.4 percent more viewers than the Men’s College World Series Championship Series involving Virginia and Vanderbilt.

The Women’s Championship Series averaged 1,912,000 viewers compared to 1,412,000 for the Men’s Championship Series — an average of 500,000 more viewers each game, according to statistics supplied by ESPN.

Length of games is becoming a factor. The final three games in the Championship Series of the Men’s College World Series lasted 3:31, 3:42 and 3:37.

By comparison, the final three games in the Championship Series of the Women’s College World Series lasted 2:05, 1:33 and 2:23.

Compounding the time problem is a situation that developed during the 2015 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship as a small number of teams purposely changed the tempo of games when opponents got runners on base.

Once the pitcher received the ball, the catcher looked into the dugout for the pitch to be called, and the pitching coach took an enormous amount of time to call pitches — sometimes up to a minute — as everyone waited and waited — including ESPN.

Many feel it is a deliberate attempt to change the tempo of games as opponents are rallying.

There is a strong likelihood that the 2016 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, including the College World Series, will implement a 20-second pitch clock rule with runners on base to speed the game along.

Several months ago, the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee took the first step to prevent pitching coaches from taking excessive time in calling pitches by proposing an experimental 20-second pitch clock rule with runners on base for the 2016 season.

Any conference in NCAA Divisions I, II and III can apply to the committee if the conference wishes to implement the rule.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved this experimental rule in late August but referred the proposal back to the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee to find out how many conferences are interested in utilizing this rule during the 2016 season. Panel members then will discuss the proposal later this fall.

To read comments by Damani Leech, NCAA Managing Director of Championships and Alliances and how this rule may impact the championship, purchase the Oct. 2 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.