Softball shortens season because of too few players

Maddy Merrit

Colleen Bazak, Sports Editor

With only one game played this year and no official league, the Shalhevet softball team had to cut short its season due to a lack of players making it impossible to have a functioning team.

At first, the softball team, coached by science teacher Mr. Chris Buckley and Athletic Director Ronnie ‘Flava’ Winbush, did not have enough players to join a league. After some convincing and persuasion by team captain junior Laura Melamed, new players signed up, but once they learned there was no league, players were not motivated to come to practices, making it hard for the team to improve.

“Once we had enough people still interested in playing, we scheduled games,” Laura said. “Then when we had games and enough people, other schools had the same problem, where they didn’t have a lot of commitment or people to play.”

Coach Flava then scheduled seven non-league games for the team. But six times, the Shalhevet team or the opposing team did not have the required nine players to play, so the scheduled games were cancelled.

The one game the team did play was a non-league game, which it lost 13-5 to Pacific Lutheran.

“Even though we lost, we did well for a team that hadn’t played before,” said freshman left-fielder Talya Joffe. “We had a lot of good plays, and we were communicating well.

Recruitment was a problem throughout the season. Talya was the only freshman who joined the team, whereas last year, six freshmen joined, only three of whom remained on it for this year.

As the season went on, practices became less and less frequent. Practices first were held twice a week, Laura said, then reduced to once a week, and finally, once every other week. Eventually, practices ended all together

Last year, some players had joined the team to get excused from P.E. But this year, most of the members were juniors, and they do not have P.E.

“Most people joined because they wanted to be on a team, and they loved softball,” said sophomore Ariela Feitelberg. “But our problem was a lack of players.”

The team had 17 members last year. They played four games and had to cancel six due to Shalhevet or the opposing team forfeiting.

This year, an average of six players would show up to practice, Flava said. Over the course of the season about 12 students joined, but many quit or returned at different times.

As with most sports teams, missing a practice every once in a while due to other commitments is acceptable. But since the team was so small, one or two absences became significant.

But students on the team say that it was not always easy to make it to practices.

“I tried to come to all of them,” said sophomore Yael Weiner. “But many times I had studying to do, and I wanted to keep my grades up.”

“A lot of players couldn’t show up because of debate, which also affected Mr. Buckley,” said Talya Joffe said. “Also, some players live in the Valley and couldn’t come to practices on Friday after school because they wouldn’t have a ride back home.”

But the team tried to make the most out of the practices that were held, which were run either by Laura or the coaches. Practices started with five to 10 minutes of throwing and catching balls. If they were at a field, they would practice as if they were in a game, working on their fielding and batting, but if they did not have a field, they just practiced drills.

Next year, Coach Flava hopes that the team will improve and have at least eight games.  But unless the team has players who are fully committed to showing up to practices, they will probably not be in a league.

“We are only losing one senior, so the key is to recruit more people to the team,” Coach Flava said. “Anyone can come and join. There is no experience necessary.”