Less than 15 years ago there was talk that fast-pitch softball was on its last legs. Today it is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Driving the resurgence are women who have embraced fast-pitch and made it a game of their own.
The seed was planted back in 1972 with the passage of Title IX. The legislation set the foundation for growth in women athletic teams and athletic scholarships for woman at the collegiate level. Even with Title IX, women’s fast-pitch softball lingered in the background.
The sport really grabbed everyone’s attention with the success of the U.S. Women’s team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. At the time, fewer than 250,000 women were playing fast-pitch across the nation. Today the American Softball Association (ASA) projects there are more than 1.8 million women in the U.S. playing on nearly 650,000 teams.
Back in 1996, just a few universities had fast-pitch teams. Now there are more than 932 collegiate programs involving more than 16,000 student athletes.
While these numbers are impressive, they could be just the tip of the iceberg.
ASA registrations indicate fast-pitch is still gaining in popularity with women. There are more than 1.2 million girls participating on 83,000 youth girl softball teams in the U.S.
Don’t confuse these women with the recreational player who plays a few games when the weather is nice. Most women participating in fast-pitch play more than 52 games a year.
Proof of the game’s popularity can also be found on the internet. A quick search of fast-pitch softball turns up hundreds of links. The sport’s popularity has fueled a new industry of training videos, books, camps, tournaments and specialized equipment. There are even endorsement opportunities for star athletes.
-Home Run Hitter