GRAND RAPIDS — Young fastpitch softball players from around Northern Minnesota were in Grand Rapids Tuesday for the Arrowhead League All-Star Games.
Teams from the Arrowhead League selected three representatives from each age group to participate in the All-Star games. There were five games at four age levels, those being 10U, 12U (two games), 14U, and 16-18U. Heidi Clairmont, a coach in the Thunder Fastpitch program in Grand Rapids, said five fields were in use for the event at the Grand Rapids Sports Complex and that there were 130 total participants.
Players from Grand Rapids, Chisholm, Hill City, Nashwauk-Keewatin, Eveleth-Gilbert, Two Harbors, Mt. Iron, Cherry, Virginia and Hibbing took part.
“I think it was mostly for fun,” said Clairmont. “I know there were still competitive games and I know these girls on the Range don’t get to play as competitive of games as they would like. So I think it was a chance for them to try different positions and get to also see better pitching than they almost always do. They got to be competitive as well.”
Clairmont said she got a strong feeling that the girls selected to play in the All-Star games were excited to be picked.
“It was an honor for them to be chosen by their team and it seems like everybody was having a good time,” Clairmont explained. “I believe being selected brings their level of play up a notch as well.”
Clairmont, a former college catcher, said she thinks it is extremely important for young softball players to play in the summer because the spring high school season in Minnesota is short.
“If you look at the 10U and 12U programs, they don’t have softball as a spring sport,” Clairmont said. “So summer is their time to increase their fastpitch abilities. In order to get to those higher levels you need to have good pitching and the fundamentals and that is really where they learn them.
“I think for the older girls, it is important because you get to experience fastpitch in nicer weather and you get to go to tournaments. I know for myself that playing in tournaments is the most fun because you can play and play. You might get six games in the weekend and you get a lot of repetition.
“I think that’s where you get the softball bug, from those tournaments.”
Clairmont gives special thanks is given to the Twins Community Fund for making Thunder Fastpitch a Junior Twins program for the 2019-2021 seasons.
The funds received will be helping the program rejuvenate Grand Rapids fastpitch through increased advertising, Blast Ball program and coaching clinics over the next three years.