Program, in its third year, aims to balance competition with enjoyable experience
Lexington, SC (James Bowers) - Softball is one of the most popular sports for middle-to-high school aged girls in America. Those who want to sharpen their skills and prepare for play on their school teams often join travel teams. While travel softball can be beneficial to a young player’s talent, it is a very expensive venture, with most families spending around $500 a weekend on the associated costs like gasoline, hotels, and food. Additionally, the hotly competitive nature of this level can result in an tough atmosphere that can sour young girls on the sport and cause them to end their playing career early.
Three years ago, Patrick Montgomery, a local softball parent who had played and coached the sport himself for around a decade, sought to create a more positive situation, and approached Bill and Vicki Shanahan, the owners of the Lexington County Blowfish collegiate summer league baseball club, about supporting a new team. The result was the Lady Blowfish
This began as a club for girls 12 years of age and younger and has since grown to include teams for those aged 14 and younger. Montgomery says that an 18U team is in the works as well. The team plays during the high school softball off season, competing in tournaments sanctioned by organizations such as USSSA and Top Gun.
Montgomery says the club was formed not as a rejection of travel softball, but rather an adjustment, creating a team that values the child and the player more than the win-loss record. “We want to create an environment where the player is able to have fun while still being competitive.” Montgomery said. “We try to make sure that the players are coming up the right way.
The team is headed by coach Jason Huffman, who is also the head softball coach at Irmo High School and has played or coached the game for the better part of the past four decades. Huffman enjoys the atmosphere of fellowship that is present with the Blowfish, touting the friendships that are made between the players and their parents, and the encouragement they give one another. “The kids all play on different high school teams, and whenever they post something on Facebook about a win or a good play, everybody else on the team makes sure to congratulate them,” Huffman said. It is the happy medium between competitiveness and recreation that makes the Lady Blowfish team an increasingly popular choice for area softball players.
The Lady Blowfish will next take the field on May 12th of this year. For more information on the Lady Blowfish such as upcoming tournaments and how to join the team, visit goblowfishbaseball.com. ''