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ESPN Goes All In To Broadcast St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational

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College basketball season is in full swing with tons of games available to televise. College baseball season is opening this weekend. The NBA and hockey are staples in the lineup.

Yet ESPN is so bullish on college softball that it created a made-for-TV/streaming event that will feature 40 games across the ESPN family of networks and ESPN+.

The third edition of the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational returns this week with even more enhanced features and a fully-loaded broadcasting crew. (Last year’s event was canceled because of Covid)

The 16-team field is stacked with ranked teams from across every conference. 

No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 Florida State, No. 6 Washington, No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Texas, No. 13 Clemson, No. 15 Tennessee, No. 17 Michigan, No. 21 Northwestern, No. 23 LSU, No. 24 UCF, Auburn, Notre Dame, South Florida, Texas Tech and Wisconsin will begin play on Thursday at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla.

UCLA and Florida State will take center stage on Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET to close out the event with a showdown on ESPN. (The game was originally scheduled for ESPN2, but got bumped up on Tuesday).

In an age when women’s sports receives only about 4 percent of the total national sports media coverage, ESPN’s conviction in creating the event shows how far softball has come through the sheer force of demand.

The company is investing the resources to elevate female athletes not just because it’s commendable, but because it’s been good business.

During the tournament’s four-day run, 21 of the 40 games will be available on ESPN’s linear networks. The entire tournament is available on the ESPN App.

More cameras will be on every field this year, including eight cameras for the UCLA-Florida State game. Viewers on any channel will be updated on games taking place on other fields and will be shown a two-box screen if warranted.

“It shows you the commitment to support softball and frankly the support softball has to us,” said ESPN senior coordinating producer Meg Aronowitz. “There are teams playing at 9 a.m. on Thursday. That is a big win for us and for them to get the exposure they deserve. They put out great softball and it allows us to put great softball on TV.”

Serving as an Eastern complement to the Mary Nutter Classic that takes place next weekend in Southern California, the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational has already gained a reputation as a softball tourist destination. Nearly all tickets were sold out as of Monday afternoon.

“The in-person experience is just as good as sitting on the couch and watching. Our event group and the city of Clearwater and St. Pete are doing such a terrific job on-site,” Aronowitz said. “There is a tailgate set up down at the lower field with all the beer you can drink and food you can eat for a price. Everything about the environment has been amped up this year.”

St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational Viewer's Guide

Date Time (ET) Matchup Broadcasters Channel
Thursday, Feb. 17 10 a.m. Notre Dame v. No. 15 Tennessee Tiffany Greene, Madison Shipman ESPNU
Thursday, Feb. 17 12:30 p.m. Texas Tech v. Auburn Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie SEC Network
Thursday, Feb. 17 1 p.m. No. 24 UCF v. Wisconsin Tiffany Geene, Madison Shipman ESPNU
Thursday, Feb. 17 3:30 p.m. Texas Tech v. No. 13 Clemson Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie ACC Network
Thursday, Feb. 17 4 p.m. No. 15 Tennessee v. No. 5 Florida State Beth Mowins, Michele Smith, Amanda Scarborough ESPNU
Thursday, Feb. 17 6:30 p.m. Wisconsin v. Notre Dame Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie ESPN+
Friday, Feb. 18 10 a.m. No. 17 Michigan v. No. 7 Oklahoma State Mike Couzens, Kayla Braud ESPNU
Friday, Feb. 18 10:30 a.m. No. 21 Northwestern v. Texas Tech Tiffany Geene, Madison Shipman ESPN+
Friday, Feb. 18 11:30 a.m. Auburn v. Wisconsin Drew Carter, Jenny Dalton-Hill ESPN+
Friday, Feb. 18 12:30 p.m. No. 6 Washington v. No. 15 Tennessee Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie SEC Network
Friday, Feb. 18 1 p.m. No. 10 Texas v. No. 5 Florida State Mike Couzens, Kayla Braud ESPNU
Friday, Feb. 18 1 p.m. No. 4 UCLA v. No. 21 Northwestern Tiffany Geene, Madison Shipman ESPN+
Friday, Feb. 18 3 p.m. USF v. Notre Dame Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie ACC Network
Friday, Feb. 18 3 p.m. No. 24 UCF v. No. 17 Michigan Drew Carter, Jenny Dalton-Hill ESPN+
Friday, Feb. 18 4 p.m. No. 23 LSU v. No. 7 Oklahoma State Beth Mowins, Michele Smith, Amanda Scarborough ESPNU
Friday, Feb. 18 4 p.m. Auburn v. No. 10 Texas Mike Couzens, Kayla Braud Longhorn Network
Friday, Feb. 18 6 p.m. No. 24 UCF v. Texas Tech Drew Carter, Jenny Dalton-Hill ESPN+
Friday, Feb. 18 6 p.m. No. 15 Tennessee v. No. 13 Clemson Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie ESPN+
Friday, Feb. 18 7 p.m. No. 6 Washington v. No. 23 LSU Beth Mowins, Michele Smith, Amanda Scarborough ESPN+
Saturday, Feb. 19 10 a.m. No. 4 UCLA v. Auburn Tiffany Geene, Madison Shipman ESPNU
Saturday, Feb. 19 10:30 a.m. Notre Dame v. No. 23 LSU Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie SEC Network
Saturday, Feb. 19 10:30 a.m. No. 15 Tennessee v. No. 24 UCF Drew Carter, Jenny Dalton-Hill ESPN+
Saturday, Feb. 19 11 a.m. No. 21 Northwestern v. No. 13 Clemson Mike Couzens, Kayla Braud ACC Network
Saturday, Feb. 19 1 p.m. No. 17 Michigan v. No. 5 Florida State Tiffany Geene, Madison Shipman ACC Network
Saturday, Feb. 19 1:30 p.m. No. 7 Oklahoma State v. USF Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie ESPN+
Saturday, Feb. 19 2:30 p.m. Texas Tech v. No. 6 Washington Mike Couzens, Kayla Braud ESPN+
Saturday, Feb. 19 4 p.m. No. 10 Texas v. No. 4 UCLA Beth Mowins, Michele Smith, Amanda Scarborough ESPNU
Saturday, Feb. 19 5 p.m. No. 17 Michigan v. No. 23 LSU Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie ESPN+
Saturday, Feb. 19 5:30 p.m. Wisconsin v. No. 13 Clemson Drew Carter, Jenny Dalton-Hill ESPN+
Saturday, Feb. 19 6 p.m. No. 6 Washington v. No. 7 Oklahoma State Mike Couzens, Kayla Braud ESPN+
Saturday, Feb. 19 7 p.m. No. 24 UCF v. No. 10 Texas Beth Mowins, Michele Smith, Amanda Scarborough Longhorn Network
Sunday, Feb. 20 9 a.m. Texas Tech v. No. 23 LSU Mike Couzens, Kayla Braud SEC Network
Sunday, Feb. 20 9:30 a.m. No. 21 Northwestern v. No. 7 Oklahoma State Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie ESPN+
Sunday, Feb. 20 10 a.m. No. 6 Washington v. No. 13 Clemson Tiffany Geene, Madison Shipman ESPNU
Sunday, Feb. 20 11 a.m. Notre Dame v. No. 10 Texas Drew Carter, Jenny Dalton-Hill ESPN+
Sunday, Feb. 20 12 p.m. Wisconsin v. No. 4 UCLA Mike Couzens, Kayla Braud ESPNU
Sunday, Feb. 20 12 p.m. Auburn v. USF Mark Neely, Danielle Lawrie ESPN+
Sunday, Feb. 20 12:30 p.m. No. 24 UCF v. No. 5 Florida State Tiffany Geene, Madison Shipman ESPN+
Sunday, Feb. 20 3:30 p.m. USF v. Wisconsin Tiffany Geene, Madison Shipman ESPN+
Sunday, Feb. 20 7 p.m. No. 4 UCLA v. No. 5 Florida State Beth Mowins, Michele Smith, Amanda Scarborough ESPN

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