The Women’s College World Series will expand to a nine-day event starting in 2022, the NCAA announced on Wednesday.
The two-day event extension eliminates the need for double schedules for teams that lose on the first day of the tournament.
Teams that advance to the final will also benefit from an additional day of rest.
Sandy Atkins, chairman of the committee and deputy director of athletics at the University of Troy, said in a statement that the new format prioritizes the “rest, recovery and preparation” of players while allowing more options in regarding potential weather delays.
“The engagement of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, especially the active coaches who have competed in the Women’s College World Series, has helped identify the day off before the championship series and minimize double headers as key recommendations. to improve the championship, ”Atkins said.
“This focused feedback has helped us focus on this alternate format that targets those priorities, while preserving the components of the format that allow for a competitive series and a great experience for teams and fans. “
Softball coaches have long suggested extending the tournament, much like the Men’s World University Series, where teams typically have a day off between games.
Carol Bruggeman, executive director of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, said adding days to the calendar would go a long way in helping the ongoing conversation about gender equality in college sports.
Increased attention to player well-being has also likely contributed to the format change, she said.
“It was really tough for these teams when they got home late and had to turn around and have media responsibilities and all those other responsibilities and then try to play a game,” she said. “They just needed a little more rest and recovery. So I think putting the student-athlete first and that experience has a lot to do with that, which we fully support.”
It was a delicate balance, she said, widening the schedule while trying to maintain interest in a tournament that lasts for several days.
“Our sport is always growing; our sport is always booming,” said Bruggeman. “People are watching, people are invested, and because we have that interest, we can grow and people are going to watch and keep following even if we add those extra few days, you know.
“So I just think it’s a combination of all of those things, and we’re really excited about that. We think it’s in the best interest of the student-athletes and our sport, and the coaches certainly are. in favor of this new medium. “