“Did you know their team building story from the pre-season involves turkey wrangling and cow milking?” asked an excited Holly Rowe this week. “Yes, turkey wrangling! This Missouri team is a blast.”
Having an audience-captivating, rare anecdote and the ability to connect viewers with a telecast has always been in the veteran ESPN reporter’s repertoire.
However, this weekend, storytelling will be put to the side — but not ignored — when the versatile Rowe goes from the field to the booth to provide play-by-play alongside color analyst Danielle Lawrie (see sidebar) for the 2015 NCAA Division I Softball Championship Los Angeles Super Regional featuring No. 10 Missouri versus No. 7 UCLA.
“The game of softball has always been special to me and I have worked the Women’s College World Series in my traditional role as a reporter,” Rowe said. “However, I wanted to be involved in the earlier rounds [Regionals and Super Regionals].
“One way to do that was to call play-by-play – something I had not done on a softball telecast in my time with ESPN. So with the support of [coordinating producer] Meg Aronowitz, I jumped into an unfamiliar role. Taking on play-by-play has helped me prepare for the WCWS, the pinnacle event for the sport.”
Though Rowe’s presence on the telecast will increase, her preparation stays the course – in part, thanks to an experience former colleague Michele Tafoya had.
“Many years ago, Michele, when she was a sideline reporter for ESPN, had to fill in suddenly for an ill play-by-play commentator,” she said. “Since that happened and knowing it could happen to me, I have prepared for all of my assignments like I may have to step in the booth. So, thanks Michele!”
The mechanics of play-by-play is the differentiator, according to Rowe.
“Good baseball and softball announcers weave stories in seamlessly,” she said. “Having a feel for when the big moments may arise is crucial and something I have improved at doing – making sure I am not in the middle of story.
“[ESPN’s multi-sport play-by-play commentator] Dave O’Brien has helped me and critiqued my work. I listen to him and [ESPN’s] Beth Mowins almost every game they do to try get this feel.”
But viewers can rest assured, when the game allows for a story, Rowe will explain how turkeys and cows paved the way for Tigers to reach Los Angeles.
— Danielle Lawrie (@DanielleLawrie5) August 5, 2014