Finally. After 34 years of IASAS, baseball and fast-pitch will be included for the first time in 2017. Following a series of meetings among the athletic directors from every IASAS school, the switch from slow-pitch softball to baseball for boys, and fast-pitch for girls, was confirmed in a unanimous vote.
IASAS slow-pitch softball has received a lot of criticism in recent years. Many people deemed it an inadequate substitute for baseball and fast-pitch. Of slow-pitch softball, senior Nick Sheung said, “[It’s a fun sport], if you’re 50 and 300 pounds.”
Slow-pitch softball is certainly a slower moving, less athletically strenuous game. Baseball and fast-pitch require pitchers to hurl the ball towards home plate at high speeds. Mix in curveballs and rise balls, and hitters have a challenge on their hands. In contrast, with slow-pitch softball, the hitter simply has to hit a big yellow ball that’s being lobbed towards the plate.
Senior Tom Kim prefers baseball to softball: “Softball lacks that feeling of competitiveness… that fire that baseball has. [In baseball], the pitcher has to put more energy into each pitch and the catcher has to think of which pitch to call. In softball, that kind of thinking is missing, which leads to a less mentally challenging sport.”
On the other hand, some students believe the switch will have a negative impact on those who have committed to slow-pitch softball. “While the switch is beneficial for those who play fast-pitch and baseball outside of school, it could possibly draw other players away who are approaching the sport without prior experience… Fast-pitch and baseball demand [higher level techniques than] slow pitch softball,” said Kelly Chung, a senior who played on the varsity softball team last year.
While baseball and fast-pitch may discourage those without prior experience from trying out, it might also encourage those who previously refrained from trying out – in order to play baseball and fast-pitch outside of school – to play during the third season.
Another complaint surrounding slow-pitch softball is its inherent ability to bore not only the players, but also the crowd. “The hardest thing transitioning from fast-pitch softball to slow-pitch…boredom,” said senior Kathleen Early. Many feel there’s nothing less exhilarating than watching high school athletes trying to toss a big yellow softball on to home plate.
“I think the casual fans… the high school kids that are coming out of third period to go watch IASAS would look at slow-pitch softball and… chuckle, and think that they’re watching a P.E. class,” said SAS high school athletic director Kim Criens.
The switch to baseball and fast-pitch promises to bring a new level of excitement to IASAS participants and spectators alike.