The most fun college sport isn’t what I thought it’d be

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There’s nothing like a college football Saturday. The tailgating, the raucous student sections and pure passion from a school’s fanbase can’t compare to anything else in American sports.

But after covering college athletics for the last four years, I’m convinced that there isn’t a more fun sport than college softball.

If you have never attended a game, I encourage you to do so. There is a radiating positivity and love for the game that can’t be seen in many competitive sports.

Last weekend, I covered Missouri vs. Texas A&M for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the team’s Senior Day. Missouri isn’t having the season it hoped it would. Expectations to host a Regional and make the Women’s College World Series followed the Tigers as they struggled early on against SEC opponents.

But on Sunday, nobody would have known that. With the Tigers trailing 3-1, the dugout hopped over the railing and began a synchronized dance in between innings. The nearly sold-out crowd began cheering them on and the Tigers went on to rally for eight runs in the bottom of the third inning.

When Missouri pitchers struck Aggie hitters out, the outfielders danced to the music from the jumbotron. With Missouri leading 11-6 in the bottom of the sixth inning, coach Larissa Anderson pinch-hit Columbia native Alexis Burks. The senior had just one career hit, but roped a single up the middle. She was greeted in the dugout with bear hugs and a standing ovation from the crowd.

After the game, Missouri players stuck around to find fans for autographs and to take pictures with kids.

This is just one team’s experience, but it’s pretty universal around the sport.

An average person might think that the team wasn’t taking the game seriously, but it is anything but that. They just have fun playing the game they love. Isn’t that what sports are supposed to be about?

Later this month, the postseason tournament will be aired across ESPN networks and I encourage you to check out a game. There are going to be so many storylines. Oklahoma, the reigning Women’s College World Series Champions have only lost one game and might be the most dominant team in any collegiate sport. Chances are that a local school will be playing in a game nearby as well.

If you’ve read my columns in the past, you know that March Madness is my favorite time of the year, but there’s something about college softball that can only make you smile.

Max Baker can be reached at max@chathamnr.com and @maxbaker_15.

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