Softball must entertain

Molefi Mika

Molefi Mika

International softball is more about good pitchers and polished sluggers but the game must also entertain and this is what South Africans must quickly learn.

Some of these qualities were missing when Softball South Africa (SSA) staged its week-long and well-supported National Provincial Championships in Polokwane, which ended on Saturday.

But this does not suggest that it was a completely dull affair.

As the tournament reached its semifinal stage tensions grew as batters became desperate to score home runs and the end result is that pitchers enjoyed the upper hand, forcing them to pop the ball into the skies for easy catches.

What their coaches really needed was to advise them to execute safe hits with the intention to place the ball just behind the infielders and away from the outfielders.

Base runners also looked too timid to steal bases and this tended to produce boring innings for the eager fans.

Tommy Kgomo, senior men's national coach, agreed: "Our pitchers made some batters look good and we need to improve that if we hope to reach international standards."

On the aspect of unimaginative base runners and batters who were easily caught by fielders, Kgomo said: "I cannot entirely blame the players on that one because that's the job of the coach. Coaches need to be tactically sound."

Umpiring was generally up to standard.

Vincent Maoeng, the internationally acclaimed SSA chief umpire, was also pleased with the work done by both their scorers and umpires.

"The men and women in blue performed their thankless job well," he said.

But William Hunt, coach of Central Gauteng (CG), is not likely to agree after his side controversially lost to Limpopo in the Major Men's grand final.

"We lost because of a corrupt umpire," a livid Hunt bluntly told Sowetan after one of his batters was wrongly ruled to have been caught after a long hit, when in fact he was caught beyond the cones in centre field.

The correct decision should have been a home run for CG, something which could have given them the edge.

Results from other grand finals: Major Women - Gauteng Northerns (GN) 8, Western Province (WP) 6; Major B Men - WP 12, Limpopo 2; Major B Women - WP 6, Limpopo 1.