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Fastpitch: Competitive Club Team

By: Adam D’Angelo

The game of fastpitch, a type of softball, is a quicker game compared to baseball in many ways. University of Windsor women’s fastpitch head coach, Paul Scott, points out the mound is closer (60 v 43 feet) and it’s statistically proven that the batter has a much shorter reaction time to a pitched ball, plus the base paths are closer (60 v 90 feet).

“This quicker game equates to a lot of ‘small-ball; (bunting, slapping, drag bunting) being utilized. That would be the main difference,” Scott said. “Even the hitting stroke in women’s fastball is more condensed and has to be quicker in the zone due to the diminished reaction time to a pitch. It is a fast-paced game compared to our brother-sport – baseball.”

The University of Windsor’s fastpitch team is considered a competitive club team, but treated and held to the varsity standards. However, as a competitive club team, the athletes are expected to cover some of the costs throughout the season – something most varsity athletes don’t have to worry about as much.

Player fees and fundraising through clinics, running camps, coupled with the University funding, pay for only some of the entire season that includes travel, rentals, associated game costs, umpiring, and equipment.

The team is going through a rebuilding stage, year two of a three-year rebuild. The original plan called for the team to make the playoffs this past season. This occurred and it was considered a very successful season for the team.

Scott has been the head coach for two years now but has lots of experience in fastpitch. He has coached the sport for fifteen years and is a director of the Provincial Women’s Softball Association (PWSA), the governing body of the sport here in Ontario.

Locally, he is on the executive committee of the board of directors for the not-for-profit Turtle Club in LaSalle, where he assists in running baseball and fastpitch operations for more than 700 youths.

Turtle Club Baseball Field in LaSalle, is also where the Lancers plays their home games.

“So far the experience has been great as a fastpitch athlete, in my first year we won third place at playoffs, which was a pretty big accomplishment for our team,” first baseman, Mandy Johnstone said. “We’ve had ups and downs as a team but overall I would say that being a Lancer fastpitch athlete has been very memorable and a lot of fun.”

The goal is to transition this competitive club team into a varsity team, however, they will need a lot of assistance along the way.

“The Ontario University Athletics (OUA) would have to recognize and favour entry into varsity status. Again, there is speculation that fastpitch is one of the sports of consideration,” Scott replied. “This may be due to the recent acceptance of fastball back into the Olympics. Once the sport is granted varsity status by the OUA, it is my understanding that the University would then have to decide to run the sport as one of their official programs.”

The athletes themselves would love to see the transition made, sooner than later. It is difficult for most of these athletes to play a sport that they love while having to worry about certain costs and accommodations because they are not considered a varsity team.

“Because of our club status, I feel fastpitch athletes are not looked up to or admired as much as the varsity athletes. We have little attention brought to our games and our success as a Lancer team,” catcher and co-captain, Mallory Martin stated. “Also, we are not a priority when it comes to medical services such as physiotherapy.”

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