Fast-pitch softball hasn’t been in Moffat County for more than 30 years, but it’s making a return to Craig this summer.
A group of girls from Craig Middle School and Moffat County High School have been gathering in the early morning hours at Woodbury Sports Complex to get ready for their first fast-pitch season.
It likely will be a difficult season ahead as the Craig team battles teams from around Colorado that transitioned to fast-pitch years ago and have been playing together for a long time. But Craig’s team has a passion for the sport across the board that has everyone involved excited about the opportunity to play.
“We have so many girls in town who are so passionate about softball,” said Amanda McDermott, the team’s head coach. “I had a few girls talk to me about coaching a team because they knew I played in college for a bit. I’m excited about it, too, because I started when I was 8 years old. This is what I did every summer.”
McDermott, a teacher at CMS, played at the University of Northern Colorado before medical issues forced her to hang up the gloves, but she has harbored a love for softball after spending her entire childhood and teenage years playing. Now, she is trying to pass those opportunities on to the next generation in Craig.
Most of the team’s 15 current members have played plenty of slow-pitch softball and understand the game, so they are not starting from scratch. But they have had to learn to pitch and hit the faster pitches in a short time frame.
“Pitching is hard,” said Brittany Rothermund, a junior at MCHS. “I know how to pitch in baseball, but this is different mechanics and a different look.”
McDermott felt also that pitching was the aspect of the game that was most difficult to pick up for her team so far. When trying to hit the faster pitches, their athleticism took over and helped speed up their swings, she said.
Emily White will be a sophomore at the high school and was another player hoping for a fast-pitch team to emerge — for a multitude of reasons.
“I love being on the field and just love the game,” White said. “Honestly, slow-pitch is more of a goof-off sport. It’s fine to play and it’s fun, but you can’t get anywhere with slow-pitch. I’d like to have a chance at a (college) scholarship.”
The team’s first tournament is this weekend in Colorado Springs, where they will play at least four games and encounter some stiff competition. While the coaches and players admit there is likely to be some difficulty in the first tournament against tough teams, they are looking forward to the experience.
“I’m excited to see what teams are actually like and getting a feel for playing that much,” White said. “The first team we play was a World Series qualifier last year, so I’m looking at that like the season can only get better from there.”
Rothermund also expects to take some lumps on the way, but based on the improvement she’s seen in a month, the future is bright.
“We look a lot better than we did,” she said. “It has been a big difference fielding the ball, throwing it, everything.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org