Softball has opportunity to attain The Bahamas’ once lofty status
It is official!
According to a statement from Bahamas Softball Federation Secretary General Daphne McKinney, The Bahamas’ national men’s team has qualified for participation in Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) (2018) and the Pan American Games (2019). A three-win, four-loss (3-4) record during the recent Pan American Men’s Softball Championships in Santo Domingo, catapulted The Bahamas, as the top English Caribbean Softball Confederation squad, into the two quality regional events.
The CAC Games, the 23rd version, will take place in Barranquilla,Colombia August 3-19; and the 2019 18th Pan American Games are scheduled for Lima, Peru July 26-August 11. The multi-disciplines events will be a collective prime opportunity for The Bahamas to become re-established as a legitimate world power in men’s softball.
It’s been about three decades since The Bahamas has been considered a top nation in world softball. The fall in softball could be contributed to a number of shortcomings, the most significant one being the lack of high-level pitching depth. There was the period that covered the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s when The Bahamas boasted some of the finest hurlers from the softball mound in the entire world. Quite frankly in most of the last 30 years, in my view, only Edney Bethel has been able to pitch consistently on par with the best in Bahamian history.
I refer to such as Foster Bethel, Clive Curry, Glen “Master” Griffin, Richard “Lion Heart” Johnson, Charlie “Welbo Papy” Mortimer, Harold Whyte, Hastings Campbell, Jimmy lee, Max Sweeting, Douggie Smith (an outstanding catcher as well), Edmund Bethel (fine catcher also), Tony Petty, and a few others of that ilk.
So, Lyle Sawyer, Martin Burrows, Alcott Forbes, Thomas Davis, and others from the current crop of pitchers have a tall order in front of them. The aforementioned stalwart pitchers of the past glory era of softball were dynamic when facing the finest batters in the world during international tournaments. It was a time when the Bahamas, once leading, into the late innings (last two), was always favored to close out the contests victoriously.
Wayne Johnson, Angelo Dillett, Sherman Ferguson, Leon Cooper, and Philip Johnson, who had key offensive performances during the Pan Am Championships in Santo Domingo, have an uphill climb to reach the batting/running/fielding plateau once commanded in international play by the following: Eddie Ford, Anthony Huyler, Roosevelt Turner, Jayson Moxey, Douggie Smith, Dave Micklewhite, Kermit Graham, Dencil
Clarke, Adlai Moss, Wardie Cooper, Ed McSweeney, Merril Rodgers, Fred “Chicken” Taylor, Sonny Haven and some names that have slipped my memory.
The bottom line factor for the Bahamas Softball Federation, is to do all within its power to prepare the men’s national players sufficiently, to the point whereby they would do justice to the softball luminaries of the past.
There are about 10 months leading up to the CAC games of 2018. The federation should be thinking about a training camp for the players. They need to be worked out in avery aspect of the game. Connectivity is the key word. The players should know exactly what to expect from each other, at the plate, on the bast path, and on the infield and outfield when on defense; the catchers and the pitchers should have a full understanding of their respective characteristics. The coaches and managers should know their players and their capabilities.
This type of bonding takes time, but it is imperative, if this era of softball representatives are ever to take The Bahamas back to the world power status it once enjoyed.
It is with such national situations, that a case could be made to the Ministry of Sports for special funding. Just throwing the players together several weeks before the first scheduled encounter against a rival country at the CAC Games in Colombia, is not appropriate. If they are to take their individual play to an advanced level and jell together as a team, they must be taken through the camp process. A proper representation, inclusive of a detailed camp program with costs to put the players together, should be made to the sports ministry. Also, the federation should, as a priority, begin soliciting sponsors immediately.
To often in the past, our sports administrators have fallen down regarding proper preparation for national teams. What is upon the softball federation at this time, is a huge test. The players have managed to qualify for the prestigious regional CAC and Pan Am events. It is now up to the federation to ensure that they get every chance to become better. The team that went 3-4 in Santo Domingo will not do much at the CAC or the Pan AM Games. They must become far better.
Once ago, The Bahamas had the softball template to be among the top three countries in the world.
This is now a prime opportunity for the nation to begin to regain the lofty status it once held in world softball.
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.