I know, I know. This isn’t the sports page. But, I have to tell you, softball has once again taken over my life.
I play in the adult co-ed recreation league, but that isn’t even why I’m so consumed with the sport these days.
The playoffs for college softball started a couple weeks ago and will wrap up in the next couple of days.
Thursday kicked off the Women’s College World Series. For those of you who don’t know, the postseason for softball resembles March Madness.
There are 291 Division I college softball programs in the country. Of those, 64 earned spots in the postseason. Those teams battled it out in 16 regional tournaments. The teams that won each of those tournaments moved on to the super regionals — best-of-three tournaments.
Finally, the eight teams that came out ahead in the super regionals will now compete in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. The tournament is a double-elimination setup. The final two teams standing will then compete in a best-of-three showdown.
Now that I think about it, forget March Madness. This is June Madness, and I love it.
My husband is probably sick of me streaming games on the ESPN app on my iPad and even more sick of me turning the channel to the games when we sit down to relax on the couch for the evening. Usually he falls asleep, while I track every move.
I haven’t played competitive softball in about 10 years (Sorry, I love the recreation district league, but it’s just fun, not competitive). Somehow, though, that part of my life has never fully disappeared. I love the sport. I love the emotion and the pace of the action. I love watching the women on these teams pick each other up and carry each other through rough patches.
I love the underdog.
When I played at Northwestern University, we were the underdog in the WCWS. We finished second. Take that Cinderella.
College sports get a lot of attention. Should athletes be paid? Should they be allowed to unionize? Are they really student-athletes, or just athletes who have to take a few classes now and then. Is the money that’s dumped into college athletics worth it?
I understand both sides of the arguments for all of those questions. But, I have to say, I learned a lot playing sports — especially in college. You learn dedication, self-motivation, how to manage your emotions and focus and how to push yourself beyond what you thought you could do. You also learn how to manage a full-time job (the sport), academics and relationships with friends, teammates and coaches. I also worked a part-time job when I was in school.
Tune in to cheer on a team.