After missing a season of competition due to lack of players, the Prairie High School slow pitch softball team has returned this year with enough to field a complete team.
The opportunity to compete in games this year is an exciting opportunity for returning players as well as those new to the team looking to develop their skills.
“Well, I know we have a number of girls that were out last year, and they practiced but they never got the opportunity to play a game,” head coach Robert Haensel said. “So, I think that’s huge for them to have that opportunity, and when we talked about well, why play? It’s like you know, you have the opportunity to build a program because it was nonexistent last year.”
The turn out for this year’s slow pitch softball team includes five freshmen. Haensel hopes the team has a solid foundation with a core of young players to build up its program over the next few years.
Slow pitch softball is a fall sport for girls that was brought back as a sanctioned Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association season sport during the 2018-19 school year to provide girls more fall sports options. Slow pitch softball was originally the only form of softball played by Washington high schools beginning in 1978-79 with that stretch’s last championship occurring in 2002.
Prairie’s slow pitch softball program this year has only two seniors as some members of the spring fastpitch team are playing other fall sports like soccer and volleyball, said Haensel, who coaches Prairie baseball in the spring.
Prairie senior Isabella Kruse said she is excited to play slowpitch this fall.
“I can stay in shape for the fastpitch season, and I get to work with new girls,” she said.
Prairie junior Lauren Bisson shared those sentiments.
“I’m really looking forward to the fact that there’s actually a team this year because there wasn’t one last year, and I’m just looking forward to getting to know the girls and to help out girls that have questions and things like that,” she said.
Sophomore Marcella Clark will play in her first competitive season for the slowpitch team.
“I think it’s really nice knowing that we’re going to actually have a team this year. We didn’t have enough players last year. I was really disappointed that we didn’t have enough,” she said. “I’m really happy that we can have a team this year.”
Sophomore Claire Jodoin joins Clark in her excitement for competing.
“[Having] more time to play because, like, when we had it last year, we didn’t get time to play at all. It was just practice every day,” she said. “So, I’m like excited to play against [other teams] and see the improvement of our other players after all our hard work.”
Senior Aja Norris said she hopes the team will improve and progress as the season progresses. She said she is looking forward to attending as many sporting events as she can, as well.
In addition to playing a game they enjoy and competing against teams this season, playing for the slow pitch team helps the girls learn new skills.
“The other thing we talked about is if you are going to play in the spring and have aspirations to play fastpitch, you learn another position that you might not normally play because I know with slow pitch, being an outfielder is going to be a huge part of our game,” Haensel explained. “And so if you want to learn to play the outfield, you’re going to have opportunities to do that.”
For high school girls slow pitch, teams are allowed to bat 11 in their lineup. Prairie has a roster of 10. Haensel said he is happy that every girl on the team will get to bat and have full playing time. The team can have a fourth outfielder, as well.
To help the team this season with funding, the Prairie High School Boosters will be holding an inaugural Queen of Diamonds Bazaar to support the slow pitch softball team. The bazaar will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Matson Building on 10713 N.E. 117th Ave. in Vancouver. The boosters encourages potential vendors to complete an application by going to bit.ly/PHSSlowPitchBazaar or by calling 817-966-2050 for more information.
The slow pitch team will kick off its season on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 4:30 p.m. with a home game against Skyview, followed by a home game against Camas on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m.