YUCAIPA, CA – There’s no doubt that men’s fastpitch softball has been on the decline throughout the U.S. And in Southern California the fall off of men’s teams has been as great, or greater than any other state in the country.
The Western Softball Congress League that for many years produced International Softball Congress (ISC) World Tournament champions: Gone.
The Pacific Coast Softball League that produced some of the best Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Class “A” teams in the country: Gone.
The Southern California Fastpitch Association that produced top ASA Class A & B teams for years: Gone.
All that’s left in southern Cal is the Southern California Independent Fastpitch League (SCIFL), which has about a dozen ASA and North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) lower level teams gamely hanging on and keeping the sport alive.
There’s also a smattering of city leagues, but that’s it. Nothing else.
There’s been an effort by some fastpitch promoters to teach boys and young men to pitch. From what I’ve discovered, that effort has met with some success in some areas. But it doesn’t appear to be the panacea to revive the sport.
So what can be done?
I have an idea whose time may have come: Coed fastpitch.
Now you old fastpitch purists don’t throw your hands up in disgust and start cussing up a storm about the “ruination of the men’s side of the sport,” by allowing women to play side-by-side with us.
This is what I’ve noticed about coed softball: It’s popular. Yucaipa ball diamonds are busy two nights a week with coed slowpitch games. And some very talented male and female athletes are playing the sport. Side-by-side and having a great time.
Many of the women are former travel ball, high school, and college fastpitch players. And as the coed game has progressed, these teams are playing in some pretty competitive leagues and tournaments.
So how could coed fastpitch help the men’s side of the game?
First of all, most teams would have great access to a pitcher – a woman. Therefore, a team can be formed.
Secondly, many of the women pitchers have had outstanding training in learning how to pitch. And they in turn could become pitching coaches – teaching a young man or men on their particular team how to pitch.
Each team would be required to have a male pitcher. Because as one of the rules, a male pitcher must split a game with a female pitcher and pitch a minimum of three innings. No excuses.
That rule alone would force teams to speed up the recruiting and training process for teaching young men how to pitch.
A Question: If coed slowpitch is so popular why would these players and teams want to switch to fastpitch?
Answer: Because of the challenge fastpitch offers. And because of how competitive the girls and women have become over the years as their side of the sport has evolved.
Outside of not being as physically strong as men, women play fastpitch softball as fundamentally sound as the men. The women have taken their side of the sport and moved it to the collegiate and professional level.
Women Love Fastpitch
And the women fastpitch players love to compete, love to mix it up, love to play in the big game, love to win league and tournament championships just like the men do.
Okay, so this coed fastpitch sounds like a workable idea. But how will it help men’s fastpitch? Simply by developing pitchers.
And once male pitchers begin showcasing their skills, men’s teams will come a-courting. You can count on it. Or new teams will form around the newly developed pitcher. And who says that a male pitcher can’t pitch on a coed team AND on an all male team? It just offers more opportunity.
Of course the concept will need some marketing and promotion to get off the ground. And once a national tournament is offered by either the ISC, ASA, or NAFA, I think it will become a sport unto its own.
And a sport that could help reinvigorate the men’s game.
To read more fastpitch softball news, go to Al Doran’s website: Al’s FASTBALL