Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why Gallatin softball doesn’t compete at the highest level?
I’ll tell you why: they are not prepared to do so when they get to high school.
This isn’t a slight at the players, the coaches or the administration. This issue starts at the foundation of all things sports — youth athletics.
Youth sports are where players develop the foundation of all they will do and achieve.
Take any successful high school team in the state, and you will find youth programs set up all across their respective areas. Baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football, hockey, you name it, they’ve got it — except Gallatin.
The City of Gallatin is the only city in the area that doesn’t offer fastpitch youth softball, only slow pitch. If players want to play fastpitch softball, they are forced to travel to Hendersonville or Goodlettsville — anywhere not named Gallatin.
How do you expect to build a championship-level high school program when all of your talent is leaving, and the talent you do have is underdeveloped due to out-dated philosophies?
Since slow pitch is the only option, players never learn to hit what they will see at the high school level. Beyond hitting, girls struggle with the proper footwork when throwing the ball, the proper pitching mechanics, the inability to bunt, fielding and everything else that makes a good softball player.
Gallatin has one state championship banner in softball history, winning state in 1982.
They could have more if the commitment to excellence on the softball diamond were a little higher.
The mediocrity trend has grown on a select group of Green Wave faithful, including Quarterback Club President and Gallatin middle school softball coach Joey Plunkett.
Going into his third season leading the middle school, Plunkett has a healthy crop of girls to choose from but says better training is needed to help continue the girls’ progression.
Plunkett has even offered to teach the youth slowpitch organization fastpitch rules, but for whatever reason, Plunkett and company run into brick walls when they approach Gallatin Parks League.
“The last few years, we’ve offered to teach them to bunt, steal bases, defense against a bunt, defense against stealing basis, the foundation of fastpitch, hitting fastballs and everything else, and they won’t budge. You are handicapping these girls if they want to play high school softball. We have people invested that want to help,” Plunkett said.
Current Green Wave softball assistant and former head coach Randall Silcox wonders why softball players do not have the same progression as baseball players.
“There is a progression when you start playing a sport,” Silcox said. “I’m a big believer in the progression for girls shouldn’t be any different from the boys. Over the years, that progression has been the opposite of the boys. For girls, some may play t-ball, then slow pitch, but never progress into fastpitch. Then, they get to high school, and it’s hard to make up for that lack of skill when a ball is coming in anywhere from 55-60 miles-per-hour. In slow pitch, they will toss you a lollipop, and that doesn’t help our girls.”
High numbers suggest girls in Gallatin are interested in fastpitch softball.
“We had 36 girls come for tryouts for the middle school team,” Plunkett said. “Parents want their kids to learn fastpitch, and if they don’t get it here, then they may go to the fastpitch league in Hendersonville.”
So, how can Gallatin turn the tide and start having more success at the high school level? Push for more fastpitch leagues.
“You don’t realize how far behind some of these girls' sports are until you get in and coach and take over,” Silcox said. “We need to continue to progress and create and level the playing field for our girls.”
If you would like to sign up to play fastpitch softball in Gallatin, you can visit their Facebook page at Gallatin girls fastpitch softball. Ages range from 6U through 14U.