Team Italy pitcher Matteo Bocchi (Texas Longhorns)

NCAA cancels College World Series of baseball and softball due to coronavirus

Pat Venditte (Creighton University)The cancellation of baseball’s College World Series (CWS) has hit home for Team Italy and Miami Marlins switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. He grew up and went to school at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska--the midwest city that has hosted the college baseball championship every year since 1950. The NCAA announced on March 12, 2020 that the collegiate baseball and softball seasons have been cancelled because of coronavirus concerns. As a result, the CWS will not be held for the first time since 1946. The news struck a chord with Italian-born and developed player Matteo Bocchi, the Chicago Cubs pitching prospect who won the decisive Super Regional game which sent his Texas Longhorns squad to the 2018 CWS. He still considers the Omaha experience as one of the most memorable of his young and promising career.

The economic ramifications of the CWS cancellation are enormous on Omaha, a city in the heartland of America that will endure a loss of $70 million on the local economy this year without the baseball championship. The CWS attracts over 300,000 fans per year from across the country and is one of Nebraska’s most anticipated events. ESPN will also see a decline in advertising revenue and a loss of 10 days of prized programming due to the cancellation of the CWS.

Erika Piancastelli (McNeese State University)Team Italy softball slugger Erika Piancastelli, a two-time All-American and four-time Southland Conference Player and Hitter of the Year, always aspired to play in the Women's College World Series (WCWS), an annual event held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Considered by many as the greatest athlete in McNeese State University’s 82-year history, Erika Piancastelli led her softball team to the 2018 NCAA Regionals but the squad was cut short of advancing to the Super Regionals, precursor to the WCWS.

With the exception of 1996, Oklahoma City has hosted the WCWS every year since 1990. The week-long event brings 70,000 spectators to Oklahoma City each year. As part of an agreement to keep the series at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex through 2035, the venue underwent massive renovations after a $27.5 million bond package passed in 2017. The economic impact of the WCWS  to Oklahoma is valued at more than $15 million annually. With the missing revenue this year comes the loss of publicity for tourism via ESPN broadcasts. Despite the financial blow to both Omaha and Oklahoma City, the safety and well-being of players, teams, and fans come first. The NCAA made the right decision to cancel the CWS and the WCWS in the end.  Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti