23 July 2012

Softball: Looking to the future

When former FHS three-sport athlete Paul Harrington (left) took the reins of the Tiger softball program last spring, one of the first things that struck him was the small number of players in the program.

With  only 30-plus players out for the sport, it became a challenge to fill the the rosters of the three teams for the 2012 season.

"We will do better than that in the future," Harrington said of his lack of numbers.

True to his word, the Tiger coach has taken a big step toward that goal this summer by providing six-week clinics for future.

The clinics, open to girls ages nine through 16 and run by Harrington and assistant coach Mal Betzold, ran from mid-June through mid-July and focused on hitting, fielding, throwing and base running skills and fastpitch softball strategy.

"Each age group met once a week for a total of six weeks," Harrington said. "Sixty-one kids signed up for our four age groups, so we were pleased with the numbers for our inaugural year.

"A large majority of the kids participating were 13 years or younger. It has been fun to get to meet them and get to know the players that we will be working with in future years."

Harrington said another one of his goals heading into the off-season was to see that more of his varsity players hone their skills by playing summer ball. From the list of 2012 summer players, it looks as though that is another item to check of his "To Do" list.

The names of nine members of the 2012 Tiger Section 1AAA championship team dot the rosters of area teams this summer, including Ashley Betzold and Brooke Searles (Minnesota Stars); Molly Berdan and McKenzie Nelson (Minnesota Synergy); Allie Rice (Rookies); Toni Hunsinger (Arctic Blast); Taylor Yousse (Invasion); Amber Doyle (Thunderboltz) and Jordyn Keprios (Ice).

"All of this off-season exposure to softball will go along way toward improving our school program," Harrington said.