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High school softball strikes out

Feb 10, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine Staff Writer

Gillette said yes. Cody said no. And now that Riverton has weighed in with its negative vote, the future of establishing high school girls softball in Wyoming appears to be in jeopardy.

On a 5-1 vote Tuesday, the District 25 Board of Trustees rejected a proposal championed by trustee Mark Stone that would have committed Riverton to participating in springtime high school girls softball.

Under rules established by the Wyoming High School Activities Association, eight schools must commit to playing before the sport can become sanctioned.

As it stands, summer softball will still be available for youth in Riverton, but it will continue to be sanctioned by the Amateur Softball Association and not affiliated with the WHSAA or District 25.

"There was concern with impact on the two existing spring sports (soccer and track and field) and the number of athletes available to field quality teams. My recommendation was to not move forward with with the program," Riverton School superintendent Terry Snyder said.

As proposed, a high school softball team would have used facilities at the Honeycutt Softball Complex in east Riverton for practices and games, according to Snyder.

Stone was the lone trustee to vote in favor of the proposal.

"It's unfortunate that it may conflict with girls sports, but that is a decision the girls should decide. The decision we made as a board is probably the best decision for the district. I don't know if its the best decision for the girls," Stone said.

Trustee Bill Russell echoed concerns that Riverton would not have the number of athletes to simultaneously field teams in three sports, and that both track and soccer would suffer.

"Gillette can afford to have another spring sport. They have the amount of kids to do that, but we don't. If we had it at a different time, an early summer or late summer league, then that conflict wouldn't exist The ultimate decision was based on that it would conflict with the already existing spring sports," Russell said.

Stone countered that, because of the strength of the ASA in Wyoming, he did not think that high school softball could work as a summer sport.

School officials had surveyed students in grades 8-10 to see whether there was enough interest for another spring sport and learned that there was interest, but that other sports would have been impacted, according to Snyder.

"The administration was ready to respond to any decision the board would have been made. We would have found a way to make it work. The administration believed that there was a good variety of activities and activities and athletics for kids to participate in and adding a program at this time of year was not a priority," Snyder said.

Snyder said that the district would continue to evaluate whether girls softball may make sense as a high school sanctioned sport in the future.