Batter’s box needs more ladies

One of the underlying issues in local softball is the level of female participation.

While the Cayman Islands Little League Association coed programme attracts more than 10 squads on a steady basis, the same cannot be said for the Cayman Islands Softball Association and its fast-pitch league. The 2013 competition saw just three women’s teams with four clubs currently battling for the men’s crown.

For fast-pitch league coordinator Marlon Thomas, there is concern over the future of the lady’s segment.

“In my view, the season went well. I must applaud the participating teams and players that made the effort to come out every weekend to their games,” Thomas said. “I would also like to thank the media for the coverage provided throughout the season.

“I would like to see the league grow to what it was some years ago where there were five female teams. It will require a concerted effort from each one of us committee members and players to work towards achieving this goal.”

The Cayman Auto Diagnostic Clinic Stingers won their second consecutive national women’s championship last month at the Field of Dreams. CADC beat Cayman National Bank Team Xtreme in three games in the best-of-three finals. The other women’s team was the Caledonian Group Wildcats, led by Samantha Ebanks, who were eliminated in the playoffs.

The men’s division sees regular season games scheduled into September on Sundays at 2.30pm on the West Bay softball field next to the Jimmy Powell Cricket Oval. Johnny Johnson Sr’s Jose’s Escape Pirates, popularly called Team Nicaragua, Peter Whittaker’s Redimix Patriots, popularly called Team Colombia, and Donald Watler’s Latinos, popularly called Team Cuba, are all vying for glory.

Meanwhile, the Little League coed competition started its fall season last week, attracting about 16 teams across three divisions. Early focus is on defending champions KPMG A, Coors Light Chuggers, PwC B and The MisFits.

For Stingers coach John Cridland, who was helped on the sidelines by Robbie Cribb Sr, women’s softball is in need of younger players.

“The league needs to recruit more girls from the Little League programme,” Cridland said. “We had a good mix this year with the three teams, showing the young girls can play with the women. It would be nice to get the league back to a minimum of four teams.”

The finals offered up a good combination of veteran and young ladies. Team Xtreme, coached by Marlon Thomas and Rupert Whittaker Sr, had stalwarts like Carneth Thomas and Molly-Ann Moore feature alongside Daneliz Thomas and Kacie Ramos. Stingers trotted out established players like Stephanie Watler and Christine McLean with younger girls like Samantha Cridland and Krystal Arch.

Lori Moncrieffe starred for CADC as their catcher and lead-off hitter. A stalwart in women’s softball over the years, Moncrieffe sees a dire situation that hinges on public support.

“Over the years the league has gotten smaller as the number of teams participating have decreased for many reasons like lack of sponsorship, not enough players interested in playing, etc,” Moncrieffe said. “My hope is the league can find avenues to generate more interest so that we can attract new players to the sport.

“Overall, I feel the number of kids participating in softball has decreased in recent years for a number of reasons such as more sporting options to choose from, no opportunities to get international exposure, etc.

“There are a lot of girls who have the talent and drive to play softball at an international level and it is up to both Little League and the softball association to work together on establishing programmes to give these kids the opportunity to excel. Both divisions have to work on attracting new players to the sport to ensure the leagues can continue.

“With all that being said, I just want to recognise Robbie Cribb Sr. for his contribution to the sport over the years but, more importantly, for always giving his time and effort in helping every player that has worn a Stingers uniform. I can honestly say that we wouldn’t be half the players we are if it wasn’t for him.”

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