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Fans are catching fever for Ole Miss women’s softball

It is no surprise that the Alabama game in football was one of the hottest tickets for an Ole Miss sporting event this season.

Neither was it a surprise that the Kentucky basketball game in late December was one of the hottest tickets this season.

But right at the top of the list of hottest tickets to an Ole Miss sporting event this year is this weekend’s NCAA softball tournament regional, which the Rebels are hosting.

Next to the Alabama football game played in Oxford, the softball tournament must rank as the number two hardest ticket to get this year, a dramatic rise to the top of demand for this up-and-coming Ole Miss softball program.

The Rebel athletic department added temporary seats inside the venue, and even outside the venue, just so everyone who wanted to get tickets to this coveted event could soak in the action.

It’s not that surprising considering women’s softball has been on a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years, with television ratings on ESPN frequently outnumbering televised college baseball games.

Take that, men.

These women really have something with softball.

Consider that the game is fast paced and exciting, typically lasting about two hours consistently while baseball at the college level routinely drags on for four or sometimes even five hours. Every time the coach walks to the mound, deliberately slowing the game, and every time a relief pitcher is summoned, slowing the game for 10 to 15 minutes, another fan loses interest.

And let’s not forget that Alabama-Ole Miss football game that had such high-ticket demand. The game lived up to its billing, a shootout with lots of scoring and offense. But the contest lasted more than four hours and thousands of fans left before all of the excitement culminated simply because they could not take it anymore.

Collegiate softball, on the other hand, is more like a blend of baseball and college basketball, with action on the diamond that keeps moving along like something on the court. The pitchers move quickly. The coaches don’t delay the game. And games are just seven innings long.

There’s also the facts that softball is affordable for the family and sports fans are hungry to see another women’s sport rise in prominence.

And, rising it is.

The 2,000 or so fans cramming into the venue at Ole Miss this weekend are getting their money’s worth, even if it does rain a little. And the same thing is occurring over at Auburn, which is also hosting a sold out regional, and the same thing is happening at other college campuses this weekend as softball continues its fast rise in popularity.

In the news business, we get to see how hungry fans really are for a sport based on online demand for content. So, this sellout this weekend here and elsewhere is no surprise to us, since we have seen that softball fans are hungrier than baseball fans and hungrier than basketball fans for all information related to the games.

Maybe it’s because even though softball now gets TV exposure and well-deserved media coverage it still lags what other sports get. Every little kernel of information is devoured.

Or, maybe it is a combination of that fact and the fact that the fast-paced, well-played games are so exciting that fans are just rabid.

We’ll go with that one, but try to do our part in continuing to tell this story of Ole Miss softball since it’s clear fans want to follow along. We’re also hoping these Rebels can ride all the way to the College World Series, but even if not this has been a season to remember.

The fact that the excitement of winning a first-ever SEC championship in softball is culminating with a NCAA regional hosted in Oxford just makes it that much more special.

But this moment of excitement won’t be the last we hear from softball. This sport is taking Ole Miss, and college fans everywhere, by storm.  And, for good reason.

We can only hope the boys, and recognizing that faster-paced games might do other sports some good.

David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. He can be reached at david.magee@oxfordeagle.com.