Seek and Destroy

Welcome to the Big League

Haylee Emanuel, Hawk Happenings

Softball has been around for many years, but it’s been the wallflower of many sports. What is softball? It originally started out to be the indoor version of baseball. Softball uses a larger ball and a different kind of material for the bat (carbon, aluminum, etc.). It holds seven innings, rather than nine like baseball does.

College softball is broken up into three categories:  Division 1, 2 and 3 (D1, D2, and D3) colleges. A D1 college is what you would call the “Big League” of the softball world. D1 schools are the ones that go to the College World Series, which is held in Oklahoma. At a D1 college, students spend most of their time playing softball instead of spending their  time on studying. Time management is left to students to figure out on their own. Playing softball for a D1, like University of Los Angeles California, Arizona State University, Texas A&M, is like a job. If players don’t show up, they’re fired.

A D2 College is what you would call a 50/50. 50 percent of a players’ time is spent studying, while the other fifty percent is spent playing softball. It’s still a hard task to manage if athletes are in love with the sport. A D2 team does go to the World Series, however normally isn’t looked at when it comes to tryouts for the Olympic Team (Team USA Softball).

Finally, a D3 College is where students can spend most  of their time studying, and only spend three hours– tops– playing softball. A D3 College is equivalent to a Junior College. Here, students are more likely to actually play the game instead of riding the bench for a year or two.

What is Team USA Softball, and what does it take to make it onto the team? One thing is for sure: it’s not easy at all.

Team USA Softball has won three gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004). Team USA was  removed from the Olympics after their final game against Japan in 2008. That is the last game that star player Jennie Finch, pitcher, was able to participate. Any hope of walking away with a gold medal for their last game was torn away when they lost to Japan (3-1).

Drafting into Team USA works like this: first, a player must be able to throw a ball at the minimum speed of 55mph. Next, the player must be able to swing the bat at the minimum speed of 50 mph. A run from home to first must be, at most, 2.95 seconds– and a run from home to home  take a maximum of 12.5 seconds. To top it off, they must do a minimum of 30 pushups.

It might sound easy to do on paper, but the competition of over two thousands girls competing for the team, and the fact that a player gets to represent their country, makes it all the more stressful. Not to mention,the requirements listed above is only for the infield and outfield positions.

If  you are interested in trying out to be a Team USA player, keep in mind the stress and hours of hard work that a player has to endure in order to even be close to consideration for movement into the next round of tryouts.