The last inning for IASAS Softball


Since last year, the IASAS schools have been discussing a change from the slow-pitch softball program to baseball for boys and fast-pitch softball for girls. This year, they finally set the decision in stone and declared next school year’s IASAS baseball and fast-pitch softball. Singapore American School and International School Bangkok have long had progressive baseball and fast-pitch programs and backed IASAS on the call.
Due to several concerns, TAS has decided to pull out from the IASAS tournament in 2017. “There are a number of variables that are specific to our institution that don’t exist at others,” said Mr. Mueller, Director of Health, PE, and Sports from K-12. “Facilities, space, budget, and most importantly, the safety and well-being of our students. Making sure that the transition from softball to baseball and fast-pitch goes smoothly and we don’t increase the risk of injury.”
When the pitches no longer sail in a slow arc at the batter, a wild pitch could result in a strike to the head or the body. The pitching mechanics between slow-pitch softball, baseball, and fast-pitch are completely different as well, which means that pitchers would be especially subject to injuries. “You can tear your rotator cuff, or shred your labrum,” said Mr. Mueller. “You can do a lot of things to your upper body if you haven’t taken the time necessary to learn certain techniques.”
Another problem is that one can’t just start baseball or fast-pitch late in the game. “I grew up playing baseball since first, second grade, and people here, from what I know, don’t really do that,” said Paul Imbrogulio (11), a returning player of the Varsity Boys’ Softball team. “It’s not like softball where you can just pick up the game. It’s something you need to play for a long time to be capable and to just be safe about it too.”
As a result, the Athletics Department plans to build the Middle School baseball and fast-pitch softball program first, then expand into Upper School later. The year off of the tournament will be necessary to slowly build a baseball culture as well as build infrastructure.
Naturally, this decision was met with outrage from the softball players. “When I first heard about it, it sounded pretty cool,” said Paul. “But then I was informed that we wouldn’t be going our senior year, and now I am, I think, rightfully [angry].”
“I was really mad because I think that it’ll be a good opportunity if we were able to play [next year at IASAS],” said Lauryn van Dooren (11), a member of the Varsity Girls’ Softball team. “It would be a good experience, and I don’t see the harm in trying. We have it in us.”
Some don’t see any reason for pulling out. “Regarding safety concerns, every sport has its risks,” said Annie Yu (11). “The risk of fast-pitch softball is one that parents and students are all willing to take, so why stop us? If safety concerns are the real issue, then why not cancel something like IASAS rugby, too?”
“If we can feel the team and if we can be decent, then I don’t see why we couldn’t go,” said Paul. “We’ll make the decision next year is what I thought would be smarter instead of just going like, ‘Okay, we decided we’re not going in 2017, 2 years from now.’”
TAS itself cannot do much about the decision the IASAS committee has made, and pulling out of next year’s tournament is the Athletics Department’s attempt to help the proper development of the program without endangering students. Whether they like it or not, softball players will have to make a choice between attending transitional practices next year and playing another sport. In the meantime, they will have to make the best of their upcoming, last ever slow-pitch softball IASAS.