Fast-pitch softball begins at BMHS

BLUE MOUNTAIN–There’s a new sport at Blue Mountain High School–girls’ fast-pitch softball. Coached by Jeff Lollar, who also coaches girls’ basketball at the school, the Lady Cougar fast-pitch team began their inaugural season Monday Feb. 23. A new sport can be a tough learning experience for both coaches and players as displayed in the Lady Cougars’ 0-4 start to the season. However, they learned enough to capture their first-ever victory in their fifth game–a 9-8 come-from-behind win over Jumpertown–Monday March 9. amp”The girls have been real excited about playing,amp” said Lollar. amp”I think at first they were a little hesitant and a little scared of the ball, but they’ve been excited, they really have. When we won our first game, I think that pepped them up a little bit and kept them interested.amp” The new sport was an idea of Lollar and former assistant coach Brent Kuhl. Lollar said that he and Kuhl decided to look into the possibility of beginning the sport, more similar to baseball than actual softball, after the students began to inquire about playing. amp”The girls showed a lot of interest in playing fast-pitch softball,amp” said Lollar. amp”All the surrounding schools were playing and the girls wanted to know why we didn’t play it.amp” Lollar said that he and Kuhl went to Blue Mountain Principal Eddie Conner and asked about the possibility of starting the sport on a trial basis. Conner agreed and the school is playing independently of a region or district. This season and the next two seasons, the team will be allowed to schedule regular season games, but will not be permitted to make the playoffs. Junior pitcher Hannah Lefler was one of the students that made the most noise about starting the sport at Blue Mountain. Lefler, who played two years of fast-pitch softball at the Ripley Park Commission, was elated to see the sport come to the school. amp”I think it’s a great thing that we got it,amp” said Lefler, with a huge grin. amp”I begged and begged for three years for this. I love fast-pitch, I live to play fast-pitch and I think it’s awesome and amazing. It was one of my goals in life and it finally came true.amp” Lollar said the idea to start the sport was also spurred by the fact that female athletes can secure scholarship money for playing fast-pitch and that adds another avenue for the students to pursue a college education. amp”We thought that would be a better thing for our girls,amp” Lollar said. amp”Maybe someday somebody might look and give them a scholarship.amp” Before fast-pitch, the only other sport with scholarship opportunities was basketball. Slow-pitch softball is played at the school, but no scholarship money is offered in that sport. Lollar also hopes the sport will lead to more girls participating in team sports at the school and bring some girls back to Blue Mountain that left because the school didn’t have fast-pitch. Lollar added that several girls have already showed interest in playing next year. amp”I hope it brings some back to our school,amp” said Lollar. amp”I hope the word of mouth of fun that the girls are having while playing fast-pitch will entice other girls to play a sport.amp” The Blue Mountain Lady Cougars’ next game is Monday March 23 at home against Falkner, with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.

Kedrick Storey