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Success of Women's College World Series opens up opportunity for change, needed discussions

Posted at 8:01 PM, Jun 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-12 20:01:45-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — On the weekend of June 5 and 6, in the span of about 13 hours Florida State softball played in two elimination games in the Women’s College World Series.

Florida State head softball coach Lonni Alameda took to their post-game press conference after her team’s first win over Alabama to address her concerns for the lack of consideration that was put into the decision for Florida State and Oklahoma State to play a game that began shortly before midnight on Saturday.

“Sometimes when you’re playing until three or four in the morning and then getting back up maybe we're not going to get the best game that you can put on TV," said Alameda.

Speaking on behalf of fastpitch softball coaches, players, and fans all across the country, Alameda recognized just how popular the sport not only is now but what it has the potential to be if given the proper respect it deserves. But as former FSU head softball coach JoAnne Graf told ABC 27 that still appears to be an uphill battle.

“I think we do treat the men and the women differently. And we’ve fought far too many battles for me to even go into right now but I think we have a ways to go. I hope the NCAA committees will look at it. I hope our athletic departments will look at it," Graf told ABC 27. "And that we will make adjustments and corrections when needed.”

Former All-American and Seminole standout Brandi Stuart once served on the NCAA softball committee that helps bring these issues to the forefront. She hopes that the powers at be look at this through a lens that explores not what compares softball to other sports. But explores solutions that come up with answers that solely benefit the sport of softball and its unique qualities.

“So we’ve got this remarkable product that has continued to grow. How do we sustain it? And how do we just create a model that continues to make sense, but also keeps the health and safety of our women at the forefront," Stuart added.

With an average viewership of more than 1.2 million people for each game of this past WCWS, it was the most-watched championship event in collegiate softball history. Proving on a grand scale and in front of a national audience that the time to make the changes needed to build off the sports rising popularity is now.

“On the other side when we have something so great we’ve got to protect it and take care of it. So that conversation has to start happening," added Alameda. "And now that I lived it, I can help move that conversation along.”

“It’s phenomenal when we were playing we played for respect when I was playing in the early 2000s. We were playing for respect and now we’re playing with expectation and we’re playing with people who want to support us," Stuart said.