Baseball, fastpitch, slowpitch: they’re all the same thing. No. Not at all. Not even close. Thirty-three years have passed and SAS has finally switched from slowpitch to fastpitch softball. Slowpitch and fastpitch are not only similar to each other, but both derive directly from the rules of baseball. One reason for the current switchover is to align with more international schools currently playing fastpitch, though it is safe to say that the school just wanted something a little more engrossing. Hopefully, this door will open new opportunities to the students and the previous slowpitch players.
All SAS has ever known is slowpitch softball. Some students still don’t know what slowpitch is, so allow me to provide you with some of the basics of the sport. Slowpitch is a simpler version of baseball, played with a standard, larger-sized softball. Slowpitch is considered slightly easier than baseball (and fastpitch softball) because the ball is easier to hit and field. With the ball moving more slowly toward the batter, strikeouts are a rare occurrence at slowpitch games. On the flipside, the higher frequency of hit make slowpitch and overall excellent game to play and to watch.
As foreign as the concept of fastpitch softball is, it’s on its way to SAS. The primary distinction is in how the pitcher delivers the ball to the batter; The underhand windmill-style of pitching causes the ball to come at a higher velocity than slowpitch. The pitcher’s mound is also a lot closer, at 43ft, which gives them less reaction time as a hitter to make contact with the ball. There are also many pitches used to confuse and make it harder for the batter to hit the ball. There is the standard fastball, which you grip with 3-4 fingers on the backwards “C” of the laces. Then there is the change-up,this pitch is designed to throw the batter off because the ball comes in much slower than the fastball. There are two types of change-ups, this one is called a pop-change. The pitcher would make a circle with their index finger and thumb, then place it on the backwards “C” of the laces. Another pitch is the drop-ball, this ball should come in around the midsection and drop to the knees or the ground. The pitcher would place their index and middle finger on either side of the channel of the laces. These are just a few pitches pitches to throw the batter off. Playing fastpitch softball is extremely difficult, but the best things are.
If you look hard enough you can find similarities in everything, but slowpitch and fastpitch do have some differences. Fastpitch has what’s called, a designated hitter and a pinch runner. These two are very important to the game and keeping it going. A pinch runner is usually put in when the catcher or pitcher is on base to avoid having those players injured. A designated hitter is usually put in if the team is in a tough spot and a weaker batter is up to bat. In slowpitch there are usually seven innings,in fastpitch it’s usually nine, fastpitch is a quicker game so both play the same amount of time. In slowpitch, there are ten players positioned on the field, with four of these in the outfield, whereas in fastpitch there are nine players with only three in the outfield. With fastpitch you can switch out and bench players whenever you want to. Both sports have catchers, but they are slightly different. With fastpitch the catcher must wear full equipment.( helmet, chest protector, shin protectors, and glove)In slowpitch you are only required to wear a helmet and sometimes chest protector(Catcher’s choice). There are many differences and similarities that make up these wonderfully entertaining sports.
Ultimately, the switch is not only in the game, but in the expectations on our girls confronted with a faster-paced game and some new challenges. I spoke with Athletics Director, Mimi Mulchin. She had a lot of very captivating information to share about the sport and it’s players. The conversation of switching from slowpitch to fastpitch has been a long and gruesome journey since 1992. She believes the previous slowpitch girls are thrilled about the switch. “The change should definitely be more exciting and a definite challenge for the girls”- Mimi Mulchin. Mimi maintains a personal attachment to the game as she played both fastpitch and slowpitch throughout her high school career. Sadly, fastpitch is only beginning to take root and is not as popular…yet. College scouts will most likely not be attending our SAS games this year, as the sport is relatively unknown in this region. Mimi also believes it will be very interesting to see how fastpitch will attract the interest of the girls. As excited as first-time players are, this is going to be a difficult transition for them. No doubt, the teams has much training ahead to adapt to the new style of play, with their biggest struggles being in pitching and catching. Pitching takes far more strength and demand on your body (due to the higher speed); catching takes faster reflexes. Mimi also believes this will ultimately be beneficial to the school: “It will definitely be a challenge for our girls to adjust, but I think they will love it.” With a new sport and plenty of potential ahead, this is guaranteed to be an interesting year for SAS Girls Softball – full of surprises, new friendships, and challenges.