Women's softball ratings are continuing to grow. Last year's third game of the Arizona-Tennessee championship series set an ESPN viewership record with 1.7 million households (1.8 rating).
John Vassallo, ESPN senior coordinating producer, said the decision to go to a best-of-three finals has boosted ratings. He also credits the NCAA softball committee in allowing the network good access in covering the games.
For the second year in a row, home-plate umpires are being miked for taped segments. This year, field reporter Holly Rowe is being allowed into the dugouts to help her track game strategy. Rowe also interviews head coaches live during the fourth inning.
"We have a very flexible committee and some great coaches who are forward-thinking and allow us the things that we do,” Vassallo said.
Vassallo said softball's smaller field is advantageous for the network, which is using 14 cameras for the WCWS.
"I'm struck with the intimacy of the event, how we are able to humanize these student athletes and how we can capture the emotion of it all. Playing on that more-compressed diamond allows us to get closer.”