There is no doubt that many people will want to argue with me about the idea of Fastpitch being a spring sport. Understand, just because we are used to something doesn’t mean it is a good thing. Having said that, I do think some very positive things have come from Georgia’s decision to make fastpitch softball a fall sport. But times have changed. What was a positive for years is no longer a positive today.
To be fair, let’s spend this part of the series talking about the positives that fall school ball has contributed.
First, playing a fall high school schedule contributed greatly to Fastpitch getting so good, so fast in Georgia. Many of my college coaching friends tell me that they feel Georgia is second to California in producing high level prospects. And that the talent pool is very deep with players who can play at all levels of the collegiate game.
The decision to play school ball in the fall has created a great opportunity for travel ball to flourish in Georgia. The combination of fall school ball and spring and summer travel ball has allowed Georgia kids to play a lot of softball. It’s not uncommon for higher level players to play well over 100 games a year.
We always assumed California produced so many great players because their great weather allowed for year-round play. Georgia does have a winter but the weather does allow for a lot of softball to be played.
Second, the high school season starts right on the heels of the climax of the travel ball season. Most high school players come into their fall schedule right from competing in national championship events. You would expect them to be playing at a high level right away rather than needing a preseason training program.
Third, the fall school ball schedule has allowed college coaches the opportunity to see players they are interested in recruiting in a school-ball setting. Many college coaches like to see how a player interacts in the high-school setting because the day in and day out world of school ball does more closely resemble what their players go through than what those players experience in travel ball. A player’s ability to get along with teammates, balance academics and represent their school are important factors to some college coaches.
Fourth, the fall weather is usually warm and dry which allows the high school program to practice and play on a daily basis. Nothing is better for a players development than being able to get on the field.
Has the fall schedule paid some dividends? Yes it has. Unfortunately, I feel it has become a losing hand for our players.
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.