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Youth fastpitch softball takes off on Vashon
By REMONY HENRY
For The Beachcomber
This year, for the first time in Vashon Youth Baseball & Softball history, girls’ fastpitch softball was offered to 6- to 10-year-old girls as an alternative to the traditional co-ed teeball and baseball programs.
Thanks to the efforts of the fastpitch league director Jay Hammond, VYBS was able to recruit enough 6-to 10-year-old girls to establish two Island teams this year.
Hammond and Lauri Hennessey coach the Island’s U14 traveling fastpitch team. Robert Henry and Lori Lane Kimmel coach the U10 team.
Fastpitch softball has nearly the same rules as traditional baseball. One of the big differences between these two sports is that in fastpitch softball the ball is bigger than in baseball (though not softer).
Also, the manner in which the ball is pitched is different. In baseball the pitch is thrown overhand. In fastpitch, the ball is pitched underhand with some gymnastic flair. This flair occurs in the windup to the pitch, where the pitcher’s arm does a full 360-degree windmill rotation prior to releasing the ball to generate speed.
A 65-mph fastball is considered at the low end of the radar for college and Olympic levels of fastpitch play.
At the 6- to 10-year-old level, coach pitch — where adult coaches pitch to batters — is the norm until the girls have the fundamental pitching mechanics down on a consistent basis.
Going beyond pitching, the Vashon U10 fastpitch girls have been working hard with coaches Henry and Lane Kimmel to develop their hitting and fielding skills. Early on it became apparent that the two teams were ready to combine forces and bring their game off-Island.
United as the Rock Island Rockettes and sponsored by Rock Island Pizza and Carlson Chiropractic, the U10 fastpitch pioneers have taken their show “over town” to Lincoln Park’s ball field to take on some of West Seattle’s finest U10 teams.
Some highlights from the past games include two in-the-park doubles by Ellie Lande and Lauren Bredice to drive in lightning-fast runners Keeley Green, Penelope Boyes and Sienna Stromberg. Other girls who consistently found the “green” from the batter’s box included Sirena Martinez, Tobin Vaughn and Jayden “Crusher” Smith.
The Rockettes’ high-flying offense is well balanced by its nicely choreographed routine out in the field. Notable defensive plays were consistently executed by aspiring Olympic shortstop Indigo Kimmel and Corinne Ryan on the “two bag” (second base). In addition, Tamsen Henry’s omnipresent coverage of the outfield prevented many a ball from being lost in the green.
These maneuvers, combined with Charlotte Gunn’s intimidating coverage of the pitcher’s mound and Gabrielle Graves’ solid first base skills, had the Rockettes’ opponents shaking in their cleats as they stepped up to home plate.
All together the Rockettes displayed that they have the moves and skills to steal the fastpitch show and in the end had their fans screaming for more.
Such well-rounded performances and hugs all around at the end of the games (another difference from baseball) bodes well for an encore season next year for the U10 girls fastpitch league.
— Remony Henry is a
Scrimmage and social
Vashon’s fastpitch teams will be hosting an invitational scrimmage with an ice cream social to follow for Island girls ages 5 to 13 at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 5, at the McMurray south field.