Come fall, Mid-Columbia Conference schools will offer an additional sport for their female athletes.
Pasco, Chiawana, Walla Walla and newcomer Hermiston will add slowpitch softball as a fall sport. The MCC athletic directors will meet Wednesday, when Wa-Hi’s Dirk Hansen hopes to hear that the rest of the schools will join the fun.
“I’m pretty confident more MCC schools will join the group,” Hansen said.
While the process at each school still is in the planning stages, Jake Davis at Pasco and John Cazier at Chiawana are excited to get the ball rolling.
“It’s another opportunity for our females athletes,” Davis said. “It’s a competitive sport. It’s exciting to offer opportunities for our students. We want to get this done in time for open registration for fall sports in a month.”
Cazier said there have been no formal talks as a conference, and the Riverhawks just got approval from the board to proceed.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the other MCC schools came around,” Cazier said. “Jake and I were the first ones to jump on board. The cost is minimal. We have the facility and they use the same bats and balls as fastpitch. It would be up to the school whether we order new uniforms.”
Around the state, the Greater Spokane League and the Greater St. Helens League offer slowpitch softball in the fall.
“I was one of the pioneers in the Vancouver School District that got slowpitch going,” Hansen said. “It’s a fun option for the kids, and you don’t have to worry about as many rainouts. I saw how great it was for the Vancouver area kids. I brought it up, and there is interest. It’s a sport that is growing. There will be regional and state tournament this fall.”
The postseason tournaments are not WIAA sanctioned, but the players have to meet the academic standards set by the WIAA, and the rules and regulations follow that of the WIAA.
Hansen is in the process of finalizing his proposal to the Walla Walla district cabinet.
“The biggest question that is asked is, does it take away from girls soccer or volleyball,” Hansen said. “We don’t think so. We are looking to reach out with more engaging options for kids. The program is affordable. Initially when we brought this in, there were grumblings that it will affect the swing of fastpitch players. They may not play. If they do, it will be a good chance for them to work on their defense.
“You still have to throw to first base.”
While Hermiston still is dipping its toes into the MCC waters, AD Larry Usher said slowpitch softball has been discussed, and the school will move forward if there are enough players to form a team.
“More than likely, a lot of fastpitch players who don’t play a fall sport will come out,” Usher said. “Once we put it out there that we are looking for a slowpitch coach, our fastpitch coach will be the first in line. Anything we can offer our students is a good thing.”