By Eric Butler: PNT Correspondent
Developing a youth fast-pitch softball organization in a slow-pitch softball town is no easy task. Just ask Yolanda Aguilar.
But Aguilar, and other like-minded proponents of fast-pitch softball, may be on the verge of turning the corner.
An informational meeting for parents interest in organizing an area fast-pitch league is being held at 6:30 p.m. today at Roy Walker Community Center in Clovis.
“Trying to get these girls to go fast-pitch has been a hard battle,” Aguilar said. “Some people say it’s the same thing and it shouldn’t be that big of a deal (to transition), but it is. And it’s a whole different game in your mind, too.
Aguilar said the regular success Clovis youth teams have had in slow-pitch softball tournaments adds to the difficulty of convincing young girls to take up fast-pitch.
On the other hand, a couple of factors have contributed to an increased local awareness of the fast-pitch sport over the last few years:
• Clovis and Portales high schools starting fast-pitch programs. While the state began awarding state championships in fast-pitch softball as far back as 1974, it would take more than two decades before the first area pitcher whizzed a ball over the plate in high school competition.
• Increased media coverage of the sport on a national level. ESPN extensively aired the 2005 Division I college softball world series.
“It does help. I think that was a big thing, about a month ago, because a lot of the girls were watching it,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar said that she’s hoping to have regular league games for 10-and-under and 12-and-under divisions in place by spring as she has received interest from parties in Portales, Muleshoe and Hereford. She also said an 8-and-under league is not out of question, provided enough interest is shown there, too.
The biggest beneficiaries, aside from players who might develop enough to get college scholarships down the line, will likely be the Clovis High and Portales High softball programs.
“It’s a definite plus, Portales coach Robbie Crowley said. “Right now, we don’t have a feeder program. But we’ve got a lot of interest and they want to get better.,”
She believes the development of pitchers will be the biggest positive of a youth fast-pitch league.
“The ones I have now, Sasha (Parker) and Shareesa (Nusser), they started as eighth-graders and they’re not bad at all. But if you can start them earlier, that’s just so much muscle-memory they can develop,” Crowley said.
Aguilar’s daughter, Carissa Floyd, played with Clovis High in 2002. Her desire to be a pitcher is one of the major reasons Aguilar became interested in starting a fast-pitch league.
“Since she was interested in pitching, she was really about two years behind everybody else in the state. She started as a freshman, as opposed to others who started when they were 10 or 11 years old,” Aguilar said. “The same with my daughter Adrianna now. She’s interested in pitching and she’s having to start now as a 13-year-old.”