Pac-10 vs SEC Softball
SEC Baseball is recognized as the class of the college baseball world. This year is no exception as the SEC has four baseball teams in the top 20 nationally and Vanderbilt is ranked #1.
The Pac-10 has long dominated the world of college softball. Pac-10 schools have won the Division I College Softball Championship 7 of the past 10 years and 16 of the past 20. In fact, Pac-10 schools won it all ten straight years between 1988 and 1997! Since 1982, either UCLA (11) or Arizona (7) has won the NCAA tournament 18 times. Arizona was the 2006 NCAA Softball Champion. And, Arizona is the top ranked team going into this years' NCAA tournament.
But, the times, they are a changing. The SEC only started fielding Division I softball teams ten years ago. Yet, there is now a fierce Pac-10 vs SEC softball rivalry. In fact, last week (May 7, 2007), SEC teams were ranked 1, 2, and 3 in the nation.
The records and rankings have shuffled a bit since the national poll came out because LSU won the SEC tournament. Nevertheless, it is clear that SEC Softball has arrived!
The SEC had seven teams selected for the NCAA Division 1 Softball Tournament this year. This was second only to the Pac-10's eight. It will be fun to see how the tournament plays out.
As with the other sports the SEC does so well in - the reason it has become a softball power is because SEC schools have committed serious resources to the sport. By "resources" I mostly mean money.
Tennessee, Alabama, LSU (and other SEC schools) have poured millions into new softball facilities, coaches, recruiting and scholarships. The SEC plays to win and it has the money to make sure it does - win that is.
Many of the SEC's top softball coaches and players are transplants from the West Coast. This includes, for instance, Tennessee softball coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly and star pitcher Monica Abbott. Abbott leads the NCAA in career wins, shutouts and strikeouts.
The commitment of SEC schools is particularly impressive because none of the softball teams in the SEC even comes close to breaking even as far as revenue. They are all money losers. In the end, it is the power of SEC football, that provides the money so SEC schools can invest in sports like softball.
Of course, there certainly is unquantifiable (but real) value in having winning athletic programs - even if they don't make money. That winning image translates in many other areas to make each SEC school a better place for its students, alumni, and fans.
Of course, in the end, as this site repeatedly states - it is the fans who are really responsible for the greatness of SEC sports - including softball. Why? It is the fans who contribute to athletic departments; buy tickets and merchandise; and watch the games on TV and radio; read articles in various media, etc. All of this results in revenue for SEC athletic departments and increased exposure. The result is better facilities, more scholarships, better recruits and circle goes round and round.
It starts and ends, though, with SEC fans. The best fans in the world!
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