The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Todd Stanford

May 11, 2011

Todd Stanford's softball column: Games move right along

There's something to be said for brevity. And that something is this: It's good. (How's that for brief?)

Now, of course, brevity isn't always good. You want the finer things in life — like peanut butter milk shakes, Dean Koontz novels, any episode of "Justified" — to take their sweet time coming to a conclusion.

But when it comes to sports, brevity is too often a lost art. I've seen too many football games lose their flow because of another replay review; too many basketball games that become, during crunch time, timeout marathons that are only occasionally interrupted by action; too many baseball games in which it seems like an eternity between pitches.

Which is why I like the fact that softball games whip by at a pretty good clip. It's what makes softball my favorite spring sport.

Consider: In two games this week, I saw a combined 30 one-pitch at-bats. 30! Now that's an economical use of time. The girls get out to the field and play ball. A game might go by in a little more than an hour, but there's usually constant action during that hour. You're never bored at these games, because they keep moving along.

To be fair, some of the rules built in to softball make the game move faster when compared to baseball. You can't steal until the ball's left the pitcher's hand, so there's no time-consuming pickoff attempts when a runner's on. And since throwing a softball doesn't put the same amount of stress on the arm, the starting pitchers often work the entire game, meaning there are no time-consuming pitching changes.

Nevertheless, I love how fast paced softball is. It makes the games that much more fun to watch.

CATCH AND RELEASE: Is there a tougher position than catcher? You have to stay on your haunches all day, foul balls and back swings sometimes hit your facemask at high rates of speed, and if you make the last out of an inning you have to hurry and go get your gear on.

So here's a shout out to three catchers who had big moments this week. Milton backstop Mack Miller made a great play in her team's 4-1 win over Danville on Tuesday. With a runner on second, Alisha Kirkner put down a sacrifice bunt. Miller pounced on it and threw to shortstop Sam Hare at third, who tagged out the Ironmen's Rachael Herman.

"(Miller) has a chance to really be good," Black Panthers coach Bill Keefer said of his freshman catcher. "She's in charge of where the ball goes. If she has it right in front of her, she gets it. She has the OK to go (to third)."

In that same game, Danville catcher Kirkner threw out Milton's Justine Marks on a steal attempt in the second. In Wednesday's game between Milton and Montoursville, Warriors catcher Kaylee Baker also had a nice throw to second to pick off Marks on a steal attempt.

— Sports reporter Todd Stanford covers high school softball for The Daily Item. E-mail comments to tstanford@dailyitem.com.

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