Has the time come for Coed Fastpitch Softball?

Written by Bob on October 29th, 2013


Could coed fastpitch softball provide a new avenue for males and females to compete together?
By BOB OTTO

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.

Bob Otto
botto3@verizon.net.

To read more fastpitch softball news, go to Al Doran’s website: Al’s FASTBALL

13 Comments so far ↓

  1. Raymond Argetsinger says:

    I have no info on starting a co-ed fastpitch softball league. If you have any rules and / or regulations ,please contact me .I want to start a league next spring,i have quite a # of people interested.I think it is time for a change for the better and this could be it. thank you , Raymond Argetsinger .

  2. Bob says:

    Hi Raymond, When I wrote the Co-ed story, I didn’t have any rules thought out. I just thought that the concept of Co-ed fastpitch would work. My thought would be to gather the people interested – especially team managers – and work out the rules together, as in a democratic process. The more ideas the better concerning how to make the league fun and safe. Where are you located? What city and state? Thank you for your response. Let me know about your progress and I would be happy to write about it. Your effort could inspire others to follow your lead.

  3. Raymond Argetsinger says:

    Raymond Argetsinger (president of East Jordan Mens Fastpitch League )East Jordan Michigan.I am living in Charlevoix Mi. about 16 miles away.I had talked to many people last year about trying this out , alot of women were very interested in it,not very many men.My mailing adress is 10350 Boyne City Rd. Charlevoix Mi. 49720 .Just in case you have any suggestions you can send me a letter, or you can e-mail me at bigrayray00@aol.com. thank you for your response…

  4. tommy evans says:

    bob, when did you originally have this idea,and why?tommy evans

  5. Bob says:

    Hi Tommy, while walking by the ball diamonds at Yucaipa Community Park, I stopped to watch a Co-ed slowpitch game. And I noticed how well the men and women played together, interchanging positions, and having fun. Then I talked with a player who said his Co-ed team had played in a Co-ed tournament in Bishop, I think. He said it was pretty competitive and popular. So I thought, why not Co-ed fastpitch. More girls and women play fastpitch than every before, so if you mix former female fastpitch with male’s who have never played fastpitch, the women could become the “teachers” and show the men how the game is played, and teach willing males how to pitch; therefore, helping to revive the male game.

  6. Josh Cline says:

    Greetings. Last time i was near this website was reading about my perfect game at NAFA Nationals a few years ago in A-Major. I am in the starting stages of getting a local CO-ED Fastpitch league together. ALOT of local young ladies, and curious men are interested. I am hoping there is at least 6 teams in the league to start. However, i can see the number growing greatly with the beautiful complexes we have in the area. I am in the search process of rules and so forth. We are leaning towards ASA book rule, other than pitching for equallity. Pitchers would abide by NCAA rules. Eliminating the leap and forcing pitchers to work on fundamentals. It also allows the men to get a good base, and then move on to men’s leagues where they can evolve, and leap as per legal guidelines. I know this is an old thread but i think its a great concept and hope to find more on it happening.

  7. Bob says:

    Great to hear about your efforts to start a Co-ed league. Josh, keep us posted on how it goes. Maybe this could be the start of a whole new concept for the sport. Best of luck. Bob

  8. isaiah vivanco says:

    bob
    we actually had a coed league here on the Soboba indian reservation 2 years ago and it was just as fun as it was popular. my mens team the so cal tribes is hosting a coed fundraiser tournament this weekend in Soboba we have 6 teams entered.

  9. Bob says:

    Great to hear about the coed league. Is it fastpitch or slowpitch and is it still running? And the tournament this weekend, is it fast or slow-pitch? I moved to southern California in 1977 and the very first ball game I pitched was against the Soboba Men’s Club – a very strong fastpitch ASA Class A club that had won the ASA regional championship the year before, I believe. Of late I’ve covered the Noli Indian Braves football team that on Friday clinched the Warrior League championship by beating Nuevo Nuview. Great to hear from you Isaiah. And I think coed fastpitch could be a great sport for both women and men.

  10. isaiah vivanco says:

    the coed league we had was fastpitch. the tournament this weekend is fastpitch.

  11. Steven Parks says:

    Bob -

    First and foremost I wanted to thank you for your dedication to fastpitch softball. I had a chance to watch you in action this year in Des Moines for the NAFA world series and I think I speak for everyone when I say “thank you” for all your hard work.
    Your website is a tremendous resource that allows all of us to keep up to date on what’s going on in our great game, whether it be NAFA, ASA , or ISC.
    I will however disagree with you that fastpitch is dying down here in Southern California. We are alive and well. We currently have leagues in Burbank and Pico Rivera that run year round. We have a wonderful travel league in the SCIFL ( socal independent fastpitch league) that plays one weekend a month and routinely draws 8-12 teams at every level, as well as the Masters travel league that goes one sunday a month throughout the summer. Both of these leagues are comprised of some of the finest people and players I have had the privilege to play with, and many teams go on to success in the national tournaments.
    As far as COED, we’ve already been doing that for years and it works just fine. We have had women playing in our league for years, at a very high level I might add. I think the name Debbie Day may ring a bell, as well as several younger women who are now currently playing, pitching, hitting and bonding just fine. Not only have the women contributed to the success, but we have recently seen a surge in younger hard ball players crossing over and learning this game as well. Just about every league team we have has added new players over the past few years, and many of these players are now on travel teams. Our team, Long Beach Wolfpack, is a classic example of how old, new, and yes, a female pitcher worked together toward that common goal of becoming NAFA Champs.
    Fastpitch is alive and well down here and thats the most important message.

    Thank you for all your hard work,

    Steve Parks
    Long Beach WolfPack #2

  12. Bob says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your response and bringing me up to date on Southern Calif. men’s fastpitch. Great to hear about the leagues in Burbank and Pico Rivera. And I know that Robert Hernandez has done a great job with the SCIFL and the Masters leagues. But with the SCIFL being the exception, the other three leagues “market” themselves very little. I don’t see anything posted on fastpitchwest or alsfastball about the leagues, league teams, league results, league-leading players. Nothing. So if someone new to SoCal was looking for a league to play in, or someone wanted to enter a team in one of the leagues, how would they even know they existed? As far as women playing and competing with and against the men, I’m with you: “welcome to our side of the sport.” I enjoyed covering the Wolfpack at NAFA. Outstanding team with a great group of guys. Hope you’re headed to Quad Cities in 2014. Best of luck, Bob.

  13. Steven Parks says:

    You are correct. We could do a bit more to promote it. All of us. Below are links to the City of Burbank sports programs, including our fastpitch league, and the SCIFL travel league site. I encourage new players who are interested to check them out. It is easy to get on teams

    http://www.burbankca.gov/departments/park-recreation-and-community-services/sports-programs/adult-sports#sched

    http://www.scifastpitch.com

    Thanks Bob

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