10 Things I Learned from the 2008 Women's College World Series

Sharing with you the 10 key things that I learned from watching this year's Women's College World Series! PrintFriendly

Fastpitch Softball 2008 Women's College World Series Lessons from Cindy Bristow

I was fortunate to have attended this year’s WCWS and help teach the World Series Game & Coaching Observation course for the NFCA. As a result of watching all the games I came away with a list of 10 key things I learned from this year’s WCWS. See how my list compares to yours:

  1. Outfielders Matter – There were quite a lot of key plays in the outfield that weren’t necessarily hard, but that were vital to the outcome of many of the games.
  2. When Your Turn Comes, Be Ready – Megan Gibson, the pitcher from Texas A & M was living proof that when your turn comes you better be ready as she went from sharing pitching duties early in the year to pitching with a record of 41-4, and getting her team all the way to the National Championship game.
  3. Find Your Role and Fill It – Amanda Scarborough from Texas A & M went from being their marquee pitcher in January to being injured and out for the year. And instead of pouting about being injured and isolating herself from the team Amanda found a new role and a new way to help her team win by doing everything possible to help the remaining pitcher, Megan Gibson, be as successful as possible! That takes a very team-oriented and unselfish player!
  4. The Babies Were Boomers – It was unbelievable to me how many teams had great freshmen that were not only starters, but were impact players – as freshmen! That’s a tribute to all of you who are out there doing a great job teaching and coaching your young players!
  5. It Doesn’t Matter What They Say – For a good part of the year the polls said that the University of Florida was #1 in the country and yet it was Arizona State that finished the year as the best team in Division I college softball followed by Texas A & M. The first game of the WCWS had #1 Florida playing the unranked and virtually unknown University of Louisiana-Lafayette. And yet ULL won giving Florida only it’s 3rd loss of the season! The lesson is to continue to improve your team’s play on the field and to never listen to what others say about you or your team’s chances.
  6. Bunting Matters – It’s easy for coaches to get absorbed with hitting and all that it involves. And while hitting does matter bunting matters more in close games, and national tournament games are usually all very close games. I saw quite a lot of critical situations where coaches needed their players to lay down a bunt, and they couldn’t. There were also a lot of times when a push bunt would have really been effective as the defense was in motion a little soon, and players couldn’t execute the push bunt either. When the game really matters – bunting really matters!
  7. There’s Parity in Softball – this year’s WCWS really proved to me that there is parity in college softball. While perennial champions Arizona and UCLA were among the final 8 teams, they were one of the first teams eliminated. We saw teams from 5 different conferences participate this year; 3 Pac-10 schools (UCLA, Arizona & ASU), 2 SEC schools (Florida & Alabama), 1 Big 12 school (Texas A & M), 1 Sun Belt school (Univ. of Louisiana-Lafayette) and 1 ACC team (Virginia Tech). We saw our first national championship game without either UCLA or Arizona involved for the first time in almost 20 years!
  8. More Evenly Talented Players – While this year brought us such outstanding players as Katie Berkhart (ASU), Megan Gibson (Texas A & M), Angela Tincher (Virginia Tech), Stacey Nelson (Florida), and Katie Cochran (ASU) there wasn’t any one player that by herself dominated the tournament as has happened in the past. As a result, it was a much more wide-open tournament that was really anybody’s tournament up until ASU’s final win!
  9. Crowds Were Bigger Than Ever – You may have noticed the HUGE bleachers in the outfield that were new for this year’s tournament. Since the WCWS crowds have been growing every year it was necessary to bring in outfield bleachers capable of seating an extra 3,000 people. I know that one of the games I attended had a record-breaking crowd of 8,000+.
  10. Little Boys Bringing Their Gloves to Big Girls Games – It was awesome for me to see so many little boys walking around the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium carrying their gloves. I remember when I was little I’d bring my glove to Dodgers games and to think that we’ve now gotten to a point where the little boys are not only coming to watch the big girls play, but are bringing their gloves with them hoping to snag a foul ball brought a big smile to my face!

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