By Rick Palsgrove
Any time is a good time to, “Play ball!” – even in December!
The members of the Groveport Madison High School girls softball team have been voluntarily getting together on their own in the off season, with no coaches, to practice and hold informal intra-squad scrimmages in an effort to get better at their sport.
“We’re the only team doing this that I know of,” said junior catcher Jessie Rock. “It’s cold out sometimes, but the weather’s not hard on us once we start. It’s worth it. The OCC is a tough, competitive league and we’re a young team. We want to be ready for the competition. I love to compete and have been playing softball my whole life. It’s a lifestyle.”
On a recent sunny, chilly early December day, 18 players got together wearing a hodgepodge of uniforms for a voluntary, informal, no coaches scrimmage on the old baseball field at Groveport Elementary School. The atmosphere was relaxed as the players had fun good naturedly joking with each other, while at the same time concentrating on improving their skills and competing.
“The players have really stepped up and taken the challenge,” said Groveport Madison softball head coach Chris Downing of the players voluntarily working on the sport on their own in the off season. “Just getting their hands on a softball and learning skills year round helps them improve and build confidence.”
Because construction of the new high school on South Hamilton Road has made playing on their long time home field there no longer possible, the Cruiser softball team will practice and play their games beginning this spring on the fields at Groveport Elementary until their new softball fields are built at the new high school.
Rock, who has signed a letter of intent to play softball at Walsh University, said she likes the idea of playing on the old Groveport Elementary ball fields.
“I love this old field,” said Rock. “I played here as a young girl in GYAA. I like the idea of finishing my high school playing career on these fields.”
Downing, parent volunteers, and Groveport Madison groundskeepers have been working to get the Groveport Elementary ball fields up to playing condition by aerating the outfields and smoothing the infields as well as clearing brush and trees along the fence line that were encroaching on the southernmost diamond. They also put some portable bleachers in place.
“We’re taking advantage of the mild winter we’ve had so far to get the fields in good condition,” said Downing. “We have great kids and parents in the softball program.”