OKLAHOMA CITY — Umpiring once again briefly took center stage in the Women’s College World Series.
In the first inning of Wednesday’s championship matchup between Oklahoma and Florida State, a pair of decisions at first base shaped the early portion of the game.
Oklahoma’s first inning ended when FSU second baseman Devyn Flaherty’s throw was clearly late to the bag, but Nicole Mendes was called out anyway.
Patty Gasso’s protests fell on deaf ears, and there is no mechanism for instant replay in college softball, something that Gasso said needs to change.
“We're baffled why don't we have instant replay,” Gasso said when asked about the lack of video review after the game against Florida State on Wednesday. “Baseball has it. Volleyball has it. Why doesn't softball have it, especially on the biggest stage? It's only fair — it's fair for both programs, for all teams in the World Series. Everyone in the postseason.
“If it takes a little extra time, our sport is that good that people aren't going to leave. And if they leave, personally, I would say I would rather a fan leave viewership and us get the call right.”
Back in the bottom of the first inning, controversy struck again.
As Sydney Sherrill attempted to avoid Taylon Snow’s tag in the first base line, Sherrill sidestepped Snow and reached first base safely. Gasso again disagreed, but the call stood.
A batter later, Elizabeth Mason homered, giving the Seminoles a two-run lead instead of potentially a one-run advantage had replay overturned the Sherrill play.
“We have over 40 cameras here … we're on the biggest stage there is,” Gasso said. “ I just feel like there's been so much of coaches coming out of their dugouts to question calls. And probably a lot of them are right. I'm not saying that they're wrong.
“But it's certainly, for peace of mind and for the good of the game, we want things to be right. Umpires want things to be right.”
The rules can’t be adjusted before Thursday’s Game 3, but 2021’s WCWS has certainly given the NCAA plenty to digest, from potentially extending the event to allow to plan for rain, to how late games should be allowed to play in order to give the student-athletes ample rest.
But instant replay could potentially be the easiest change as it’s already been implemented in college baseball, meaning there are already clear guidelines as to how to utilize it to help improve the quality of the game.
“It's what the game deserves. It's what our players deserve,” Gasso said. “Let's do this right. We deserve that.”