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A Danish pitcher demonstrates the underhand release of the ball
Fast-pitch softball (also known as fast pitch or fastpitch without the hyphen) is a form of softball played commonly by women, mostly starting at the age of 6 through college age, though male and mixed fast-pitch leagues also exist. The International Softball Federation (ISF) is the international governing body of softball and it recognizes three pitch speeds and corresponding styles of play: fast pitch, medium pitch, and slow pitch. Fast pitch is considered the most competitive form of softball. It is the form of softball that was played at the Olympic Games in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. It is also used for college softball and international championship tournaments such as those sponsored by the ISF.

Pitchers throw the ball underhanded at speeds up to women, and men from away. This is the equivalent in terms of reaction time for the batter to a baseball pitcher throwing baseball pitch from away.

The pitching style is different from that of slowpitch softball. Fast-pitch pitchers throw the ball in what is called a "windmill" type of pitch. This style of pitching involves bringing the ball in a circular motion, starting at the hip and then bringing it up over the head and completing the circle back down at the hip. The release is crucial in fast-pitch. The pitcher must snap their wrist upwards at the exact moment the ball is centered in the middle of their body. This release causes a spin motion on the ball, which thus contributes to a significant part of the speed and curvature.

There are many different pitches which can be thrown with this style of pitching. This includes two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, changeup, two different riseballs, two different dropballs, curveball, offspeed, screwball, and more. These pitches can be taught in many different styles, depending upon the pitching coach's method and the player's abilities. The basic appeal of being able to throw these pitches at such a high speed is that it speeds up the entire game and creates more action and intensity. The fastball is also a crucial pitch and that is what most young pitchers build from. If you have a good fastball your changeup will be more effective. There are many types of changeups. Some of these are the circle change, the backhand change, and the plan ball change. There is also a lot of hitting, bunting and slap-bunting from the left side of the plate.

Softball is a high speed game which includes stealing, as such there is always something going on. Most Leagues have the "dropped third strike" rule that allows you to run to first if you strike out, if the base isn't occupied or there are 2 outs. You can leave the base when the pitcher releases the ball.

Softball is similar to baseball, only the ball is bigger and the field is smaller. Younger players will generally play with an circumference ball and older players will generally play with a ball. There are many professional softball organizations around the world such as the Philadelphia Force and the Chinese National Teams.

Fast-pitch Associations

There are various associations supporting fast-pitch softball such as USSSA, Pony and ASAmarker. Each association has its own official rules.

USA Softball

USA Softballmarker is created, operated and owned by the ASA and includes the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams in order to compete in international and domestic competitions.

The United States women's national softball team has won three consecutive gold medals at the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Summer Olympics. In 2008 the US team finished second place with a silver medal to Japanmarker. Now, the event is slated to be removed for the 2012 Olympics along with baseball by a vote of 52-52.

History

One of the most significant events in softball history is when the Amateur Softball Association sent its first women’s softball team, the Brakettesmarker of Stratford, Connecticut in order to compete in ISF Women’s World championship in 1965. The Brakettes stepped away with a record of 8 to 3 and a silver medal. Even though this was a monumental event for women’s softball at the time, it was merely a stepping stone for the major strides that were to come.

After the championship the Brakettes went on tour all over the world serving as ambassadors for the sport. The coaches and players held different clinics all throughout the world in order to give a diverse group of people a better understanding of softball.

Softball as a sport continued to grow and change but despite the advancements no one was prepared for the announcement in June 13, 1991 that softball had been inducted into the 1996 Olympics at Atlanta, Georgia. ASA quickly responded by developing a coaching pool consisting of the best coaches in the country along with a selection committee which would recruit the best players and make final cuts in order to decide which players will compete for the US at all international competitions throughout the year. The strategies proved to be a success the United States captured their first gold medal in 1996 against China with a 3-0 win and has continued to exemplify excellence by winning 3 gold medals at the Olympics as well as winning 7 world Championships.

The number of Division I softball teams in the USA has grown from 222 in 1997 to 277 in 2007, along with the number of youth teams from 73,567 in 1995 to 86,049 in 2007.

Controversies

In July 2005, IOC members voted 52-52, with one abstention, to cut softball from the Olympic program after the 2008 Games. Softball needed a majority vote to stay but unfortunately, along with baseball, they were the first sports cut from the Olympics since polo in 1936.One of the reasons softball is being considered to be eliminated from the Olympics is because there is not enough participation globally and that there is not enough depth of talent worldwide to merit Olympic status. In the three Olympics softball has been contested, four countries have won medals: the USA, Australia, China and Japan.Even though the main reason softball was eliminated from the Olympics because of the lack of talent worldwide, the USA softball-team ironically faced its first lost against Japan after 3 straight wins at the Olympics 3 to 1.In response to the reasoning that there is not enough depth worldwide the ISF is working to put down roots in places where softball traditionally hasn't been played. For example, the USA team has been donating equipment and hosting coaching clinics in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. USA's Mendoza has delivered equipment and conducted clinics in countries such as Brazil, the Czech Republic and South Africa.

With the possibility of softball being eliminated from 2012 Olympics lurking, the ASA decided to create the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma Citymarker in 2005 to give the top countries in the world an event to compete in on a yearly basis. The 2005 World Cup of Softball was a huge success with over 18,000 fans from across the globe gathering in Oklahoma City to witness competition between the top five teams in the world.The World Cup of Softball was quickly established as one of the premier events for the sport of softball in the world. At the second World Cup of Softball, attendance broke records and television ratings were the highest they have ever been for a USA Softball event on ESPN or ESPN II. The USA team is hopeful that the increasing popularity of this event will allow the team to be able to compete in the Olympics in the future.

2008 Olympic Game Roster

Monica Abbott, Salinas, Calif. (University of Tennessee ‘07)

Laura Berg, Santa Fe Springs, Calif. (Graduate ’98)

Crystl Bustos, Canyon Country, Calif. (Palm Beach C.C.)

Andrea Duran, Selma, Calif. (UCLA ’06)

Jennie Finch, La Mirada, Calif. (Arizona ’02)

Tairia Flowers, Tucson, Ariz. (UCLA ’04)

Lovieanne Jung, Fountain Valley, Calif. (Arizona ’03)

Kelly Kretschman, Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. (Alabama ’01)

Lauren Lappin, Anaheim, Calif. (Stanford ’06)

Caitlin Lowe, Tustin, Calif. (Arizona ’07)

Jessica Mendoza, Camarillo, Calif. (Stanford ’02)

Stacey Nuveman, La Verne, Calif. (UCLA ’02)

Cat Osterman, Houston, Texas (Texas ’07)

Natasha Watley, Irvine, CA. (UCLA ’05)

Replacement players of the 2008 USA Softball Olympic team:

Lisa Fernandez, Long Beach, Calif. (UCLA ’95)

Alicia Hollowell, Suisun, Calif. (Arizona ’06)

Jenny Topping, Whittier, Calif. (Cal-State Fullerton ‘03)

Coaches for the 2008 USA Softball Women's Olympic Team:

Head Coach Mike Candrea (Casa Grande, Ariz.) from the University of Arizona

Assistant Coach Chuck D’Arcy (Sacramento, Calif.)

Assistant Coach Karen Johns (Charlottesville, Va.)

Assistant Coach John Rittman (San Jose, Calif.) from Stanford University

See also



References


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