I wanted to remain relatively tight-lipped about this project so that it didn’t spoil it in any way.
I spent a good portion of this season — spending more days than I wanted to writing than covering games — working on a longform feature about the possible risks of overuse in softball players. Even before I took on the beat, I wondered why baseball pitchers (at any level) are monitored so closely — pitch counts, days’ off schedule, etc. — and softball pitchers often threw all game, every game; sometimes four or five games a week.
I had heard that it’s because softball is a more “natural” motion than baseball, and every player, coach and doctor I spoke to confirmed this. However, it can’t be healthy (long-term, that is) to be throwing almost every inning of every game in your high school (or college) career. Even if softball is more natural of a motion, whipping your arm in a windmill that much can’t be risk-free.
A lot of it has to do with physical preparation and care. If you take care of your body, it gets stronger and can handle a heavier workload; if you don’t, you’re more susceptible to injury. I spent approximately six weeks speaking with and arranging photos with six of the top pitchers in our area, as well as coaches and physicians, to bring together this explanatory piece.
The piece is not meant to scare anyone, only provide perspective. I’m sure these six girls — four of whom are already committed to play in college — will have flourishing, injury-free careers, but for parents who have young softball players or girls going into softball, perhaps this piece will give insight and something to think about.
All I ask is that you read before judging. Enjoy.