What you first wish to find out about fast-pitch softball: The game’s title is a misnomer. That ball isn’t cushy – by no means. If a hard-hit or hard-thrown softball hits you within the face, it truly, truly hurts. You’ll bleed. The ball’s stitches may depart an enduring scar, even though you don’t want the opposite more or less stitches to near the wound. If it hits you within the nostril, your nostril most likely will damage. If it hits you within the jaw, it could damage. And if it hits you within the eye?
Let’s now not move there.
Best friend Barefield, a Starkville Prime softball first baseman, is aware of all this. Best friend is aware of the inherent risks smartly. She’s observed what can occur. And she or he additionally is aware of that pitchers and nook infielders face probably the most risk. They’re continuously so as regards to the plate, they’ve scant time to react to a hard-hit ball.
So, Best friend, then 16 years younger, got here up with a plan.
This might be her Woman Scouts mission to qualify for the Gold Award, probably the most prestigious the group provides and the an identical of Eagle Scout for boys. She would make an offer to the Mississippi Prime College Actions Affiliation (MHSAA), the governing frame for public college athletics within the state, to require pitchers, first basemen and 3rd basemen to put on a protecting masks.
“Closing season at follow, one in all my teammates were given hit with a ball in follow,” Best friend stated. “She was once taking part in first base and wasn’t dressed in a face masks. It was once frightening. They needed to deliver out an ambulance and take her off. Medical doctors stated it hit about an inch underneath her temple. An inch upper, it will also have killed her.”
Fortunately, there was once no lasting injury for her teammate, however there was once indubitably an enduring symbol for Best friend Barefield, whose mom had required her to put on a masks from the time she started taking part in.
For the Gold Award, Ladies Scouts calls for a seven-step mission: 1) select a subject matter, 2) examine, 3) search lend a hand from an grownup (a mentor), 4) create a plan, 5) provide your plan, 6) take motion, and seven) train and encourage.
Best friend checked all of the containers. She knew her factor. She investigated how different states care for it (now not smartly) and surveyed Mississippi softball coaches to look how they felt about it. She additionally investigated the prevalence of softball head accidents. She offered her plan to the MHSAA at each the district and state ranges, a primary for a Mississippi student-athlete. She advised the motion they will have to take: require pitchers and primary and 3rd basemen to put on a face masks. The proposal speaks for itself.
Starkville nurse practitioner Dana Brooks, the mum of a teammate, served as her mentor. Already, Brooks required her daughter to put on a face masks when taking part in any infield place. Starkville fast-pitch trainer Ronald Campbell and athletic director Cheyenne Trussell have been keen allies.
Campbell has coached fast-pitch for 5 years and observed what can occur. “We’ve had some shut calls and close to misses,” he stated. “So I used to be fascinated with it. It simply is smart: anything else to make the sport more secure for out scholars is smart.”
And there was once this: Years in the past, taking part in 3rd base in slow-pitch softball, Campbell was once hit by way of a bad-hop flooring ball in his jaw. “Broke it in two puts,” he stated.
Campbell has a daughter who performs 2d base, now not first or 3rd. He makes her put on a masks. He believes all infielders will have to be required to put on a masks.
“In fast-pitch, issues truly occur immediate, and the quick recreation, the bunting, the slap-hitting are such a lot part of it,” Campbell stated. “The primary and 3rd basemen come as much as play for the bunt and are not more than 25 toes clear of the plate, after which the batter swings away. It’s frightening.”
Campbell equipped the MHSAA training listing, which Best friend used to survey each and every fast-pitch trainer within the state. She discovered that 80 p.c would make stronger the guideline she was once proposing.
Best friend, an honors pupil with a GPA above 4.o, needed to make her proposal two times, first on the district stage in Louisville and once more on the state stage at MHSAA workplaces in Clinton. MHSAA government director Don Hinton was once provide for each.
“She did a terrific task,” Hinton stated. “She had accomplished her homework. Her analysis was once thorough. She made her issues. Now, I will be able to say she appeared slightly fearful the primary time.”
Somewhat? No, so much. “I had by no means spoken earlier than an target audience of grownup strangers earlier than,” she stated. “It was once nerve wracking, intimidating.”
However she were given thru it and her proposal handed on the district stage unanimously.
Then got here the state assembly – and a a lot more assured Best friend Barefield.
“On the state stage, she was once like a professional,” Hinton stated. “If she was once fearful, you couldn’t inform it. It was once truly cool to observe.”
She obviously made an affect. Best friend’s proposal handed on the state stage, just about unanimously, 35 to one. It’s now MHSAA regulation.
So now Mississippi would be the first state to require the 4 most threatening positions (together with catcher) to put on face mask.
“It’s a excellent rule,” Hinton says. “I feel you’ll see different states do the similar.”
Wednesday was once Best friend Barefield’s 17th birthday. Thursday was once her ultimate day within the 11th grade, a faculty yr throughout which she completed one thing no different Mississippi top schooler ever has. And, sure, she did get her Ladies Scouts Gold Award.