Once upon a time, the idea of fall high school softball made sense for the state of Georgia. I’m now of the opinion that this fairy tale needs to be rewritten. This series will explore the reasons why I feel it is time for Georgia to move high school softball to the spring.
For many years the softball game of choice in the state of Georgia was slow pitch softball. Back in the 70s, as athletics for females began to really take off at the high school level, Georgia chose to play slow pitch during the fall season. Back then the idea of fall softball made sense because the smaller number of athletes encouraged the best athletes to compete in several sports. Track and Field was a success during the spring so the fall made sense for softball.
In 1994, the Georgia High School Association began sponsoring the sport of Fastpitch softball. Momentum had been building for several years. But the decision was made to continue to offer slow-pitch softball while giving Fastpitch a shot. For several years, state championships were offered in both slow and fast pitch.
Fastpitch had become the game of choice at the collegiate level and Coach Bob Heck of Georgia State was instrumental in leading the charge to see the high schools adopt the sport. Again though, slow pitch was still a strong player in the landscape of the GHSA. Many communities were slow pitch hotbeds and many of the top players in the state were still playing slow pitch. My good friend, Scott Whitlock won two NCAA Division II National Championships at Kennesaw State in the 90’s with a lineup that had several players who played slow pitch at the high school level.
Why did the GHSA decide that Fastpitch was best played in the fall? Slow-pitch softball was already on the fall calendar. Questions about having enough female athletes to fill out the rosters was no longer an issue.
So what drove the decision?
I believe there are several answers to this question:
There was a limited number of coaches with fastpitch experience available to coach at the time. By choosing the fall season, a schools baseball coach could double up and coach softball in the fall.
There was a limited number of umpires available. Similar to the void in the coaching ranks, there was a perceived shortage of umpires, so baseball umpires would also be available to umpire Fastpitch in the fall.
Managing a state championship in the fall would be easier because you could run both the Fastpitch and slow pitch state finals at the same location. Columbus had built a very nice 8 field complex that would be perfect for hosting the state finals.
Tradition. Softball was clearly a game for the fall season since slow pitch had already filled that role for many years.
Hopefully, this little history lesson gives some insight into how the decision to play Fastpitch in the fall was made in Georgia. Next up, a hard look at why this decision just doesn’t make sense any more!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.
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