Cathedral prepares for inaugural fastpitch softball season

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; It wasn’t a horror flick, but there were some pretty scary-looking creatures at Cathedral softball practice Thursday afternoon.

Covered from head to toe in wet, cold mud, most of the Lady Green Wave players were a frightful sight.

But from their actions &045; Kate Ellard happily flinging herself headfirst in her best impression of Superman or Emily Roberts showing off a textbook feet-first slide &045; they seemed to be having fun.

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&uot;They’re working hard and they’re enjoying it,&uot; Cathedral head coach Erin Binns said.

Thursday’s practice included a lesson in sliding, and despite a few complaints &045; about the mud, the cold and having to willingly throw one’s body on the ground &045; they did seem to be enjoying themselves.

It was just one of a number of adjustments Cathedral is making in preparation for the school’s first venture into the world of fastpitch softball. The Lady Green Wave has played slowpitch for a number of years and most of the girls from that team are on the fastpitch squad as well. But though the faces are familiar, the game is a little different.

As one might guess from the name of the game, pitching is important. In fastpitch, the ball’s coming a lot faster and teams that have a dominant pitcher can go a long way. Teams that don’t are likely to struggle.

It’s unlikely any of the Cathedral pitchers &045; none of whom have any fastpitch pitching experience &045; will be dominant this season.

&uot;They say it usually takes a year or two for a pitcher to develop,&uot; Binns said. &uot;We aren’t going to be using too many different pitches. We’re just working on a couple different fastballs. Our main objective is accuracy and speed.&uot;

The team is working with four pitchers; Aisha Sanders, Caitlin Huffines, Elizabeth Blackwell and Brandi McGraw. Binns and her coaching staff haven’t decided who will start the first game and all four pitchers are likely to see time this season.

&uot;Most teams have two or maybe three pitchers,&uot; Binns said. &uot;We decided to with four and they’ve been working hard.&uot;

For all four pitchers, the key will be to throw strikes, and they’ve been practicing. Binns said each of the pitchers has thrown 100 pitches at each practice in addition to work they’ve done on their own.

Sanders is throwing the ball the hardest of any of Cathedral’s pitchers, though she said accuracy is more important to her.

&uot;We’re just trying to get the ball remotely near the strike zone, then work on the speed of the pitches,&uot; Sanders said.

Sanders, a member of the Lady Green Wave basketball team, had never played softball before coming out for the team this season.

&uot;I always though it was interesting,&uot; Sanders said. &uot;I threw one day and coach saw me. I begged my mom to come let me play.&uot;

Huffines tried pitching one day and did well enough to keep doing it.

&uot;I had never pitched before,&uot; Huffines said. &uot;I just went out as a joke one day and it looked decent.&uot;

Besides pitching, there will be some other adjustments for Cathedral to make. Unlike in slowpitch, bunting is allowed, so infielders will have to make adjustments.

&uot;There’s a lot of differences,&uot; Huffines said. &uot;The infield has to be a lot quicker. With the bunts, the infield has to pull closer in.&uot;

When she isn’t pitching, Huffines will spend most of her time in left field for the Lady Green Wave.

Binns realizes her team is likely going to have a hard time this season adjusting to playing fastpitch.

&uot;It’s going to be a challenge and they’re prepared for it,&uot; Binns said. &uot;I sat them down and told them it’s going to be different (than slow pitch).&uot;