Drake among first MCAL schools to experience loss of girls’ softball team

The ball comes hurtling at you and your bat sends it rocketing towards the fence across the field. The wind whistles in your ears as you dart around the bases and you’re overjoyed seeing your teammates waiting to serenade you at the home plate. This year, several Drake softball players will lose the joy of this experience from the absence of a girls’ team.

According to Drake girls’ softball coach Neil Murphy, this is the first year there has not been a girls’ softball team at Drake. The root of this issue is inadequate training in local recreation departments. As a result, the popularity of softball at the recreational level decreased and more girls began to play other sports instead.

Sophomore Margaret Young was among the group of players that chose to play a different sport instead of softball this spring. Despite choosing to focus on basketball this year, she enjoyed being on the softball team last year.

“I really liked being on the team, it was a super positive environment, and I enjoyed playing with all those girls. They were really welcoming since I had played no softball before,” Margaret said.

However, the lack of a team frustrated many returning softball players. Sophomore Abby Murphy has invested six years of her life into playing softball; she is greatly disappointed by the falling-out of the team this year.

“It’s just kind of sad because we didn’t know our season wasn’t going to be happening this year,” Abby said.

Both Abby and Young said that being on the softball team was not just about playing softball. The experience of being on a high school team helped them make new connections and manifest school spirit. Not only has the absence of the team robbed the players of an enjoyable experience, but it has caused significant problems for the more serious athletes.

Because travel ball teams also expect the girls to play on their respective high school teams, they only practice once a week during the spring season. Now that there are fewer practices during the week, the dedicated players feel disadvantaged.

“I feel like I’m falling behind because all of my teammates on my travel ball team are going to be able to play throughout every day this spring, and I don’t get the same experiences,” Abby said.

Despite the absence of the softball team this year, actions are being taken to form a team and keep practicing. According to Neil, practices will still be held on the field and in the weight room for any remaining players. A recreational team will also be put together for freshmen and sophomores so they get practice and game experience.

Drake is not alone in this issue. According to Abby, Terra Linda High School is currently experiencing similar matters. Coaches like Neil will work to strengthen the recreational departments to ensure that the loss of high school softball teams will not become more widespread.

“We’d love to have as many girls come out as possible so they can learn to play the game and have some success and build confidence,” Neil said.