FAYETTEVILLE – More than three inches of rain failed to dampen spirits at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Softball Championship hosted by the University of Arkansas at Bogle Park last weekend.
Field crews and Mother Nature battled as hard as the eight teams but multiple rain delays and the threat of severe weather failed to keep the crowds away as the event set attendance records.
On the final day of the event, the SEC Tournament’s championship game between No. 3 Alabama and No. 10 LSU drew a crowd of 1,510. That number was the largest championship game attendance since the tournament adopted a single elimination format.
The total attendance for the tournament was 4,477, the second largest total in tournament history since 2006 when the tournament moved to campus sites.
Arkansas waited through a more than three hour rain delay starting the final game of the first round at 11:30 p.m. The late start didn’t hinder the attendance with the Session Two numbers for games three and four coming in at 1,125 fans. Session One brought 936 fans through the gates while Session Three on Friday listed attendance at 906.
Those figures gave the tournament an average of 640 people per game and 1,119 per session.
"The tournament got a lot of great input from a lot of people," Razorback head coach Mike Larabee said. "In fact, many of them said it would be great if we could just have the tournament in Fayetteville every year. Overall, I thought Bogle Park was an amazing venue. I got a lot of emails and texts from people around the country just saying how unbelievable the field was."
Bogle Park, which opened last season, is on the roster of state-of-the-art competition facilities for the Razorbacks. With a capacity of 1,346, Bogle Park features chairbacks for all primary seating and outfield berm seating that includes a picnic area. There are also six skyboxes, a full press box and a new graphic scoreboard. The Razorbacks have a full clubhouse and training facilities, which for the first time are all located at the venue. Part of Bogle Park is an indoor practice and batting facility located adjacent to the playing field.
Fans, coaches, student-athletes and administrators alike couldn’t say enough good things about the facility and the strength of the tournament as a whole. Following his team’s 2010 SEC Softball Tournament title, Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy went out of his way to compliment the tournament host and the Razorback fans.
"I want to say thanks to not only to the SEC but to the University of Arkansas," Murphy said. "You guys put on a great event and all of our student athletes appreciate the championship atmosphere. I was really worried that the crowd would not be here, but I was really pleasantly surprised that it was basically packed. And for the Arkansas fans, I just want to say thank you to them for coming out to watch a great college softball game. This is a great venue and the baseball/softball venues here are some of the best in the country so to the fans, kudos to them."
Rankings are based on the ESPN/USA Today collegiate softball poll released Tuesday.