Here are the longest games in Women’s College World Series history, taken from the official NCAA softball record books:
|Innings||Team vs. opponent (score)||Year|
|25||Texas A&M (1) vs. Cal Poly Pomona (0)||1984|
|*17||Oklahoma (7) vs. Florida (5) (17 inn.)||2017|
|17||Arizona (1) vs. Kansas (0)||1992|
|17||UCLA (2) vs. South Carolina (1)||1983|
|15||Florida (9) vs. Nebraska (8)||2013|
|15||Oklahoma State (3) vs. CSUN (2)||1994|
|14||Arizona (2) vs. UCLA (0)||1997|
|14||Iowa (9) vs. Michigan (7)||1995|
|14||Texas A&M (1) vs. UCLA (0)||1983|
|14||Fresno St. (1) vs. Oklahoma St. (0)||1982|
*Championship Series — Game 1
Let’s take a deeper look at the four longest WCWS marathons.
25 innings | Texas A&M vs. Cal Poly Pomona (1984)
Failure wasn’t an option for Shawn Andaya. Never while growing up — thanks to her “hardcore” dad — and never while in the circle during the longest game in WCWS history.
The 1984 game between defending champion Texas A&M and Cal Poly Pomona was decided in two parts. First was 22 1/2 innings, beginning on Thursday, May 24. A rain delay halted the scoreless play, and the game resumed the next afternoon at 4:30 p.m for 2 1/2 more innings, before finally ending with an Aggies 1-0 victory.
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The Austin American-Statesman claimed the rain rescued both teams that Thursday night. Andaya disagrees. The postponement to the next day was an added hurdle to a never-ending marathon.
In front of a crowd of 6,000, the freshman had thrown all 22 scoreless innings that first night. “I’m pretty old school,” Andaya told NCAA.com. “I never ice down, but I knew from that many innings — and it was a little cool — that I would probably be really sore the next morning. I wasn’t looking forward to that, and I would’ve preferred to just keep going, but it wasn’t possible.”
After all, that’s how her dad taught her about failure. “If you have the physical conditions to keep going — I just kept going,” Andaya said. She awoke that Friday morning to her arm feeling like a side of beef, but Aggies coach Bob Brock expected her to finish what she started. It took an hour and a half of tossing to her catcher before she felt comfortable entering the circle for the final two innings of the game.
Andaya wasn’t the only one preparing to return to the circle once play resumed. Cal Poly Pomona’s Rhonda Wheatley entered play during the fourth inning on Thursday and returned for the second day. She and teammate Tammy Delp, who pitched the first 3.1 innings, had combined to match Andaya’s zeroes on the scoreboard.
Wheatley’s slingshot motion made her a striking opponent to Andaya’s windmill action.
“I’d never seen a slingshotter who could throw like her,” Andaya said. “We could not hit her. She was just unbeatable that day.”
That is until the bottom of the 25th inning, when Andaya drove in the game-winning run off Wheatley.
“When you’re in a game like that and you’re a hitter and a pitcher and you get the opportunity to help yourself, my batting average goes up tremendously,” Andaya said. “I’m batting 1.000 at that point.”
With Josie Carter on third after leading off the inning with a double and advancing to third on a groundout, Andaya hit a grounder up the middle. Second baseman Kathy Powell’s throw home was late. Aggies win.
After a 5-hour, 50-minute scoreless deadlock Thursday night, the marathon ended on a tricky play at home 24 hours later.
Andaya sometimes forgets who drove in the winning run after 6:13 total time of play. But when reminded, she vividly remembers her sprint to first base.
“We’re desperate here. I ran my butt off (hoping that I would be safe), turned around and looked and everybody was jumping,” Andaya said. “I was like, “Holy crap it’s over.'”
Along with pitching the entire 25-inning game and driving in the winning run, Andaya struck out 15 batters, walked five and allowed 11 hits. The Daily Press in Newport News, VA, coined the freshman second-team All-American an “iron woman.”
Cal Poly went on to play Fresno State in a 12-inning game later that day. The Broncos lost 1-0 on a wild pitch — another tricky play at home. The team went 37 innings in two games without scoring a run. Cal Poly had to drop the softball program in 1993 after seven appearances in the WCWS.
The Aggies advanced to the championship game in 1984, where they lost 1-0 to UCLA.
17 innings | Oklahoma vs. Florida (2017)
We couldn’t have a list of the longest WCWS games in history without the longest game in WCWS championship series play. In Game 1 of the 2017 WCWS finals, Shay Knighten and Oklahoma defeated Florida 7-5 in 17 innings.
Oklahoma’s Paige Lowary pitched a career-high 10.1 innings while Knighten was the hero at the plate.
With the score tied 4-4 and runners on first and second in the top of the 17th inning, the sophomore Knighten pulled an inside pitch over the left field wall, breaking the tie and securing a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three final series. The three-run homer, the last of six lead changes in the game, extended Knighten’s postseason hitting streak to 11 and kept her atop the team’s multi-RBI game list with 18.
The low pitch from USA Player of the Year Kelly Barnhill of Florida came on a 1-2 count. She allowed five runs after allowing just nine on the entire season.
“This is one of the greatest games I think in College World Series history,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso told the media after the game. “It was like two heavyweight fighters throwing punch after punch.”
17 innings | Arizona vs. Kansas (1992)
Arizona and Kansas met on May 23, 1992, after losing to Long Beach State and Fresno State in the first round, respectively. Arizona’s loss to LBSU came after a wild pitch “deflected off a batter’s helmet” to allow the game’s only run to score.
“Sometimes the softball gods are with us and sometimes they are not. Obviously today I thought I was battling (them).” Arizona coach Mike Candrea told the Tucson Citizen after that Long Beach State loss.
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Against Kansas, Arizona’s Susie Parra pitched a complete game shutout, allowing seven hits and striking out 14 while retiring 18 of the final 20 batters. Four of Arizona’s seven hits came from Amy Chellevold. Her pivotal double with one out in the 17th set up the Wildcats for an extended postseason. She advanced to third on a flyout and came home on a throwing error to first. The final game time was 3:18. Arizona eventually fought back into the winner’s bracket and fell to UCLA in the finals.
17 innings | UCLA vs. South Carolina (1983)
UCLA appeared to be on the brink of elimination on May 28, 1983. Cal State Fullerton had already handed the Bruins a 6-1 loss earlier in the day, and as reported by the Los Angeles Times Wire Service, “half the team was sick” with an apparent stomach illness. Against South Carolina that same night, five ill Bruins played while ace Tracy Compton and third baseman Sue Eskierski sat out.
The Bruins staved off elimination though, winning 2-1. In the 17th inning, freshman centerfielder Mary Ricks squared for a squeeze bunt to score Sheila Cornell for the game-winning run, eliminating South Carolina. This stood as the longest game in WCWS history for one year, until Texas A&M-Cal Poly Pomona’s 25-inning matchup took over the top spot.
UCLA-South Carolina would have ended in the 16th inning if it wasn’t for a Ricks outfield assist, gunning down South Carolina’s best chance at winning the game.
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Debbie Doom pitched a remarkable game in place of the ill Compton. She struck out 15 and retired 32 straight before giving up a hit and a run in the 15th inning.