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All eyes on college softball as popularity of the sport continues to grow

FSU softball
Posted at 11:44 PM, May 25, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — There's no denying the growth of college softball. You can use this weekend's Super Regional between Florida State and Georgia as an example. Tickets sold out in one minute. Games this weekend across the country will be shown on ESPN and on ABC, and for those playing the game, seeing the popularity of the sport blossom has been pretty cool.

"I always joke, I think I have one VHS tape of me playing from way back in the day," laughed Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda.

Times have definitely changed for college softball.

"The stadiums, the venues, coaches salary, NIL opportunities, all of these things happen because of the exposure ESPN gave us and continues to give us," said head Georgia coach Tony Baldwin.

Florida State softball's Super Regional this weekend against Georgia, nationally televised, and with games airing across ESPN and ABC this weekend, that growth has the potential to get bigger.

"To see the game of softball, you come in and you want to grow as a person and a program, and you want to grow softball as a whole," said junior Devyn Flaherty.

"What used to be in baseball is I want to be like Ken Griffey or I want to be like this, people can say that now because they're seeing it," added Alameda. "It's super cool to see the game grow in all levels on that side because it only benefits our sport to want to be a Jahni (Kerr) or want to be a Dev (Flaherty)."

The numbers back it up. According to ESPN, last year's Women's College World Series averaged a higher peak viewership and a higher average viewership than the College World Series.

"We owe so much to ESPN and their willingness to put us out there," said Baldwin.

And fans in Tallahassee? Love this team too. A week after selling out the four team Regional in five minutes, this weekend's tickets? Gone in sixty seconds.

"I push it as much as I can," said Alameda. "These guys are pushing it as much as they can to give younger girls in the sport the opportunity to grow."

"It's super cool to be a part of, and I'm happy to be here this weekend," added Flaherty.

A weekend the whole nation can have it's eyes on. The Seminoles won game one of the Super Regional 8-1. Game two is Friday night at 8:00, and it airs nationally on ESPN.