Coming off last season’s Women’s College World Series record ratings, ESPN will offer its most comprehensive NCAA Division I Softball schedule in 2016 with more than 600 games carried across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, ESPN3, and SEC Network +.
The regular season concludes with championship games from the ACC, American, Atlantic Sun, Big South, Horizon League, Mid-American Conference, Missouri Valley, SEC, Southern and Southland conferences, leading into the NCAA Division I Softball Championship.
In addition, NFCA Executive Director Carol Bruggeman, along with several NFCA All-Americans, former Olympians and professional athletes will serve as analysts throughout the season.
ESPNU and ESPN2 will begin their slate featuring the back-to-back National Champion Florida Gators hosting No. 16 Tennessee (March 18) and traveling to No. 5 LSU (March 26). Overall, the schedule will feature 17 ranked teams from the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll, including 16 appearances from top 10 teams; approximately 90% of the total games feature a ranked team. Additional highlights:
Best vs. Best: 19 games will feature a ranked team vs. another ranked team including:
o No. 4 Alabama at No. 1 Florida (April 2)
o No. 14 Oklahoma at No. 16 Tennessee (April 23)
o No. 13 UCLA at No. 15 Arizona (April 24)
o No. 15 Arizona at No. 7 Oregon (May 1)
o No. 11 Texas A&M at No. 3 Auburn (May 7)
o No. 9 Georgia at No. 4 Alabama (May 7)
Championship Games: ACC, American and SEC Championship games will all air on ESPN. ESPNU will air televise the SEC Tournament semifinals and the SWAC Championship game.
Home of the Post Season: ESPN will cover the NCAA Regionals, Super Regionals and every game of the Women’s College World Series. The selection show will air on May 15 at 10 p.m. on ESPNU. Details to be announced later in the season.
SEC Network and SEC Network +
SEC Network begins the television coverage when No. 3 Auburn hosts Georgia State (March 6) and No. 2 Alabama hosts Stamford (March 8). It will televise a quadrupleheader March 12 and a tripleheader on March 13 featuring No. 17 Kentucky at South Carolina, Alabama at No. 5 LSU and No. 1 Florida at Auburn both days and Arkansas at No. 16 Tennessee on March 13 as conference play ramps up. Throughout the season SEC Network will air more than 50 games, concluding with the second round of the SEC Tournament on May 13.
SEC Network +, the digital home of the SEC Network, will stream more than 250 games this season featuring all 13 teams in the conference, including more than 20 appearances by No. 1 Florida.
ESPN3, which began its 250+ game slate in February, will stream contests from 12 difference conferences --ACC, Atlantic Sun, Big East, Big South, Big West, Horizon League, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Missouri Valley, Southland, Sun Belt, and Western Athletic. Highlights:
ACC Softball: More than 50 ACC games including the quarterfinals and semifinals of the conference tournament.
No. 12 Florida State, whose series with No. 2 Michigan was streamed in February, will be seen more than 10 times this season, including vs. No. 1 Florida (May 4) and vs. conference opponents No. 21 Notre Dame (April 2-3) and Louisville (May 7-8). Notre Dame will also be streamed more than 10 times this season, including the aforementioned series vs. Florida State and home series vs. Louisville (April 30 - May 1)
Sun Belt’s Ragin’ Cajuns: No. 6 Louisiana-Lafayette will be carried eight times this season
o Atlantic Sun: More than 25 games from Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Stetson, USC Upstate
o Big East: More than 10 games from St. John’s
o Big South: More than 25 games, most originating from Liberty
o Horizon League: More than 50 games
o Metro Atlantic: Select Monmouth home games
o Southland: No. 5 LSU at Southern Louisiana (April 13) and the conference championship game
Conference Championships: The Atlantic Sun, Big South, Horizon League, Missouri Valley, Southern, Southland and Sun Belt Conference Championship games will all be carried on ESPN3. The network will also have early round coverage of the Big South, Horizon League, and the aforementioned ACC, tournaments.
Please note: Not all ESPN3 games are exclusive. Schedules are continuously updated at ESPN3.com
Longhorn Network is the home of RV Texas softball, airing 33 Texas home games this season. Non-conference play vs. in-state rivals (UTSA, North Texas, and Texas State) will be televised in March before Longhorn Network airs 10 games vs. Big 12 opponents (No. 24 Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) in April and May. The complete Longhorn Network schedule and additional highlights can be found here.
ESPN/SEC Network softball analysts are accomplished former college, Olympic and professional softball players:
NFCA Executive Director
Honors: As a Division I coach at Michigan, Purdue, and Louisville, achieved more than 700 combined wins; All Big-Ten and All-Mideast Region as a player, inducted into the Iowa Softball Association Hall of Fame (1997)
College: Texas A&M
Honors: Two-time NFCA All-American (2005, ’07). Only player in Big 12 history to receive Freshman of the Year and Player of Year in same season (2005), played in two WCWS (2007, ’08)
College: Oklahoma State
Honors: Two-time NSCA (now NFCA) All-American, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, ’00) and eight-time Japan Pro League MVP
Honors: Won three national championships (1993, ’94, ’97), two-time NFCA/NSCA All-American, member of goal medal-winning teams at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2004 Athens Olympics
Honors: Three-time NFCA All-American and WCWS Champion with the Crimson Tide
Honors: National Player of the Year (1996) and Women’s College World Series MVP (’96) Four-time National Champion, winning three as a player (1993, ’94, and ’96) and one as an assistant coach, also with Arizona (1997), three-time first-team NFCA All-American
Honors: National Champion (2009), Three-time first team NFCA All-American and played for Canadian National Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
National ProFastpitch League Commissioner
College: Missouri Western State
Honors: National Champion, National MVP and played on USA National Team that won the World Cup (1992)
Honors: Led the Rockets to the WCWS; holds the MAC record for batting average and hits. Former head coach at Bowling Green and Syracuse
Adam Amin, Trey Bender, Cara Capuano, Tiffany Greene, Jenn Hildreth, Melissa Lee, Beth Mowins, Mark Neely and Pam Ward will call play-by-play throughout the season. Laura Rutledge will be a reporter on a number of telecasts.
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU Softball Schedule (Rankings reflect USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll)
|March 18||7 p.m.||No. 16 Tennessee at No. 1 Florida||ESPNU|
|March 24||5 p.m.||Mississippi Valley State at Texas Southern||ESPNU|
|March 26||Noon||No. 1 Florida at No. 5 LSU||ESPN2|
|9 p.m.||RV Texas at No. 24 Baylor||ESPN2|
|April 2||Noon||No. 4 Alabama at No. 1 Florida||ESPNU|
|10:30 p.m.||No. 13 UCLA at No. 7 Oregon||ESPNU|
|April 3||7 p.m.||Ole Miss at RV Mississippi State||ESPNU|
|April 8||7 p.m.||Coastal Carolina at Winthrop||ESPNU|
|April 9||Noon||No. 11 Texas A&M at No. 16 Tennessee||ESPNU|
|5:30 p.m.||NC State at No. 12 Florida State||ESPNU|
|6 p.m.||No. 17 Kentucky at No. 5 LSU||ESPN2|
|7:30 p.m.||No. 9 Georgia at No. 18 Missouri||ESPNU|
|April 10||3 p.m.||No. 14 Oklahoma at No. 24 Baylor||ESPN2|
|4 p.m.||NC State at No. 12 Florida State||ESPNU|
|April 16||1 p.m.||No. 16 Tennessee at No. 9 Georgia||ESPN2|
|3 p.m.||RV Texas at No. 14 Oklahoma||ESPN2|
|April 23||2 p.m.||No. 9 Georgia at No. 3 Auburn||ESPNU|
|4:30 p.m.||No. 14 Oklahoma at No. 16 Tennessee||ESPNU|
|5 p.m.||No. 13 UCLA at No. 15 Arizona||ESPN2|
|April 24||3:30 p.m.||No. 21 Notre Dame at North Carolina||ESPNU|
|5 p.m.||No. 13 UCLA at No. 15 Arizona||ESPN2|
|April 25||7 p.m.||No. 21 Notre Dame at North Carolina||ESPNU|
|April 27||6 p.m.||RV Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton||ESPNU|
|10:30 p.m.||RV Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton||ESPNU*|
|April 28||4 p.m.||Bethune-Cookman at Florida A&M||ESPNU|
|April 30||7 p.m.||No. 5 LSU at Arkansas||ESPNU|
|8 p.m.||No. 3 Auburn at No. 16 Tennessee||ESPN2|
|May 1||3 p.m.||No. 15 Arizona at No. 7 Oregon||ESPN2|
|5 p.m.||No. 25 UCF at USF||ESPNU|
|7 p.m.||No. 3 Auburn at No. 16 Tennessee||ESPNU|
|May 7||Noon||No. 9 Georgia at No. 4 Alabama||ESPN|
|1 p.m.||No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 4 Auburn||ESPNU|
|3 p.m.||South Carolina at No. 14 Missouri||ESPNU|
|May 13||3 p.m.||SEC Tournament||ESPNU|
|5:30 p.m.||SEC Tournament||ESPNU|
|May 14||Noon||American Championship||ESPN|
|2 p.m.||ACC Championship||ESPN|
|5 p.m.||SEC Championship||ESPN|
|May 15||10 a.m.||SWAC Softball Championship||ESPNU**|
*Live on ESPN3 at 8:30 p.m.
**Live on ESPN3 on May 14 at 3 p.m.
-- Courtesy of ESPN