Low turnout dooms St. Al slow-pitch

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 9, 2002

[08/07/02]With the increased emphasis on fast-pitch softball in Mississippi, many coaches around the state have often said slow-pitch would be phased out soon.

At St. Aloysius, it’s happened a little early.

For the second straight year, a lack of interest has forced the school to cancel the slow-pitch season. St. Al softball coach Gene Rogillio didn’t rule out the possibility of having a team in 2003 or later, but wasn’t overly optimistic about the sport’s chances for a comeback at the school.

“I don’t have enough kids who want to play. We’ll keep it in mind for next year, but there’s not enough interest in it to play this year,” Rogillio said. “It’s about a 99 percent dropped sport. It doesn’t mean it can’t be revived, but it’s done for this year.”

Rogillio said only about a half-dozen girls showed interest in playing slow-pitch this fall, most of them in junior high.

With the rise of fast-pitch over the past few years, most coaches agree that slow-pitch is slowly being phased out on the high school level. More opportunities exist on the college level for fast-pitch players, so many choose to focus on that game instead of slow-pitch.

“We have a lot of girls that are doing other things, and a lot of them feel it might affect their fast-pitch performance, and three, it’s being phased out slowly across the state because of the college opportunities (for fast-pitch),” St. Al athletic director Joe Graves said.

In Warren County, several select teams advanced to regional or national tournaments this summer, and Porters Chapel Academy has dropped its slow-pitch team to focus on fast-pitch.

The county’s two public high schools, Warren Central and Vicksburg High, continue to field slow-pitch as well as fast-pitch teams. Both teams begin their slow-pitch season on Saturday, with WC hosting Ridgeland and VHS playing at Brandon.

Rogillio said it was unfortunate that the slow-pitch program at St. Al appears to have died out, but added that it was a natural process.

“I hate to see it go, because that was another sport that girls had the opportunity to participate in. But if they don’t want to play, that’s their choice,” he said.