In this time of separation and distancing ourselves from each other, rival softball programs Foran and Law came together for a friendly virtual competition last week.
The challenge was proposed by Law coach Melanie Blude, who believed players would welcome the chance for competition.
“We wanted to do something just to get our girls together and keep their minds off of how miserable it is being home and not being able to play the game,” Blude said. “I spoke with my captains trying to think of what we could do related to softball. We do this drill at the end of our outfield warm-up and the girls get a couple of balls and fire them at the bucket and we will sometimes give out gum or sunflower seeds at practice, so we came up with that and decided we obviously wanted to do it with Foran.”
Blude reached out to Foran coach Julie Johnson, who was immediately on board.
“We were supposed to have an opening for our brand-new field at Foran and we were going to play Law,” Johnson said. “We are rivals obviously and it’s a smaller town to have two high schools so we know each other well. We had been planning to play them for the grand opening of our field so when this pandemic started it was kind of disappointing that we knew it would be cancelled. Melanie reached out to me and told me she was thinking of this competition and asked if we would be interested in doing the challenge. I put it out to the girls and they were like absolutely. I think that they were excited to be focused on something positive.”
The challenge was a simple one. Participants were given 10 consecutive throws to try and hit a bucket at a distance of at least 75 feet. Each bucket hit was added to that team’s score.
Photo: David G. Whitham / For Hearst Connecticut Media
Image 1 3
“We had so many girls go out there and do it, some spending hours at the field just excited to be involved with this,” Blude said. ‘We wanted the kids to measure off a 75-foot length from the starting point to the bucket. They would field a ball and fire it at the bucket as if they were throwing home for a play at the plate or hitting a cut-off. The score was how many times they would hit the bucket in ten consecutive throws.”
The videos and scoreboard were posted daily through the Law and Foran softball twitter pages throughout the week.
“We started it that Monday and Julie would submit her posts by noon each day and we would follow up right after,” Blude said. “We would post the score at the end of each inning in the evening of that night. It was Monday through Sunday and each day was considered a new inning.”
The seven-inning challenge proved to be a bit of a roller coaster ride, as Foran got out to an early lead which it held on to for the first four innings.
“I had really good participation and I had a group of kids who would continuously come back with improved videos,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t that they just had one shot, the whole point was for them to get better so they could try it as many times as they wanted. Quite a few sent me more than one video because they had continued trying to get better. I thought we had them for a little while and then they pulled out some crazy numbers at the end.”
Trailing 22-21 after four innings Law took a strategic turn, slowly separating over the final few innings before a monster seventh frame.
“There was a lot of strategy between myself and my captains,” Blude said. “We said that right now it looked like every day we are going higher and higher and we can’t do that. We decided to save some of our higher scores for later in the week so that they would think maybe we don’t have anything left.”
Law saved its secret weapon for the final inning, using sophomore Grace Kantor’s video as the ace in hole. A video in which the third basemen nailed the bucket in nine of her 10 throws, propelling Law to the 42-34 victory over Foran.