By Shaun Farrell
It’s absolutely insane and insane is an understatement.
I faced guys in college who threw 95 from 60-feet-six-inches. This was just a different level. The mound is 20 feet closer, the ball is coming at 80-plus and the ball is rising.
There’s a stigma to it though. I’m not sure why many baseball players don’t want to give it a try. They might think it’s girly or it’s not challenging enough, but some play high arc (slow pitch) and they just want to stick with that.
I played baseball throughout high school. I was a three-year varsity guy and then played a year at College of the Canyons. I broke my thumb and as catcher, I couldn’t really catch with a broken thumb so I started coaching.
It was a long rehab and when my thumb healed, I was okay with leaving baseball competitively. I was ready to just have fun and that’s when my friend, Cory, invited me out to play fastpitch softball with him on Wednesday nights.
They started me out behind the plate and I remember the first time I saw a rise ball. Cory told me I wasn’t going to catch it and I didn’t believe him at first. He had me just catch it standing up and it was nuts! The fact that a ball could do that was crazy!
The transition in the box for me wasn’t as drastic as I thought. It’s still very similar in the sense that you still have to read the spin and the pattern of the pitcher. But, the ball going slightly up as opposed to the ball coming slightly down is the biggest change of all. I think baseball players find themselves swinging under the ball a lot. The upward swing just doesn’t genuinely work.
I’ve been playing fastpitch for about six years now. I’m not perfect, no one perfects anything and I still, to this day, don’t know how women can throw a softball! The ball is way too big! I don’t get it! I still airmail first base every once in a while and the ball just never feels comfortable. I don’t know how women can throw it accurately all the time. It makes no sense!
My brother actually plays softball with me and together we make up the middle infield. My third baseman from high school plays also plays with us. A couple of other teammates from high school play on other team in our league. I’m constantly trying to recruit.
We’ve had opportunities to play with or against some of the best female athletes in the world. Natasha Watley came out and played against us. That was super cool. I think she actually grounded out to me that which was pretty awesome. There are three or four other women who play in our league and they have no fear.
It takes me back to high school when the softball team used challenge us to a game. I really wish we would’ve taken them up on that opportunity but at the same time they probably would’ve crushed us.
The sport is going to be driven by baseball players who don’t play anymore but still want to keep it going and do something a little different. I just really wish more guys would try fastpitch softball. There’s some type of stigma when it comes to the word, “softball.” It might be a macho man, alpha thing, I don’t know. I just hope that over the coming years, it can be more accepted and guys become more open to trying it because honestly, it’s a lot of fun.