It’s been a while but girl’s fastpitch is making a return to the Northwest.
Last weekend, the sport saw a mini-camp at the Smithers Civic Centre with a number of very enthusiastic coaches and players in attendance.
Terrace coach Geoff Watt has been involved with the sport for many years and in fact coached his sons until recently.
“It isn’t baseball. It’s fastpitch and is sponsored by Softball BC,” he said.
He explained that, in a nutshell, the difference was in the way in which the ball was pitched. Typically in fastpitch, the ball is thrown in an underhand, windmill type of motion and can reach a high velocity. In baseball, the motion is overhand.
In slowpitch or softball, the ball is tossed underhand and must achieve a certain arc in the delivery. There is no windup in the motion.
The group he is working with currently is a northwestern regional team. Most of the players are 14 and 15 years old and are in preparation for the next BC Summer games.
He explained that there are around 17 players trying to make the team at the current time but that due to the costs of travel, he does not expect them all to be able to attend every session.
He felt that it was too expensive to go to higher level tournaments in the Lower Mainland so developing a team that will attend the BC Games where they will have to compete at a high level will go a long way in reintroducing the sport in the Northwest.
“It’s a good competition but it’s relatively cheap to get there. It gives us a good goal. Each player, it doesn’t matter where they are from, will pay $250 and that helps subsidize it. We’ll fly right out of Terrace right to Duncan or the nearest airport. They’ll stay in a school. They’ll bring sleeping bags and sleep on mats. They’ll stay as a team. They’ll compete against the other regional teams throughout the province,” he said.
He said that while the other northern region was spread out like the Northwest, it had larger centres such as Prince George, Quesnel and Fort St. John that provided more opportunity for higher level competition.
“They don’t have the same struggles but they still have some struggles,” he said.
This will be Watt’s fifth trip to the summer games. The previous four times was with the regional boys team as his own sons were involved so this will be his first trip to the games with the girls team.
“Two years ago, we tried to get enough girls together to make a girls team but we just couldn’t get enough to make the numbers work,” he said.
Next weekend, the team will hold its next practices in Terrace in conjunction with the boys team.