New softball league for girls holds Saturday opener
Tafuna Baptist Church has started a new softball league for young girls, called ‘Middle School Girls Softball, that will be played at the Tony Solaita Field on Saturday mornings. The league began last Saturday.
“Tafuna Baptist wanted to give back to the community and that is why we started this softball league for girls in grades 5- 8. With the help of Brandon Smart, Clayton ‘Boom’ Mahuka and Colin Bode, we were able to get it off the ground and going,” said Brian Smart of the Middle School Girls Softball League.
“We decided to develop these girls, so they can go on and play at the high school level. It is just something our church wanted to do for the community. We have girls from the schools of Pacific Horizons, Manumalo Baptist, Samoa Baptist Academy. There are 36 girls that have been split up to play on three different teams.
“We will be playing on the weekends (Saturday morning) up until the end of May, with the last game on June 2. The girls can get ready to go into baseball for the summer, already knowing the basic fundamentals of it. This is something that we are excited about and hopefully these girls will be excited about it too, and it turns into something that we can do for years to come, in developing the high school league,” said Smart.
The most well known softball players of Samoan ancestry are the Ricketts sisters, Keilani, Stephanie and Samantha, who have ties in the territory. Not only did the sisters compete in the amateur ranks, where they excelled in the NCAA and on the International level, Samantha Ricketts played at the professional level as well — where she was picked 12th overall in the 2009 National Professional Fast Pitch Senior Draft. All three sisters were in the territory at the end of last year to conduct softball clinics, as part of the Samoa Bowl events.
Parents who attended last Saturday’s opening of the new league stated they were happy that there is a league like this for the younger girls.
Said a parent, “I’m happy that this league started. In the past it seemed like the girls didn’t really start learning how to play until they got into high school, because there was no elementary school or junior high league. Now they can start learning at a younger age and by the time they start high school, they will have a lot more tools than before and there will be a higher quality of games being played. That will hopefully get the attention of colleges.”