While Payson has turned out some outstanding fastpitch softball pitchers — Rachel Ray, Brenna Zumbro, Candice Johnson and Becky Larkins to name a few — local teams and leagues have long struggled from a shortage of depth.
No one understands that better than Little League Fastpitch Softball Coordinator Felicia Moore.
“This town always suffers from a lack of pitching,” she said.
Which means some of the town’s fledgling pitchers have probably never been exposed to fundamentals such as “drive off the pitching rubber — explode, reach back through the downswing and finish tall with good push back resistance.”
Without those fundamental pitching skills to buoy them, hurlers struggle no matter what the competition level.
In a new effort to hone pitchers without having them travel to the Valley for camps and club ball, the local Little League program is sponsoring a series of upcoming clinics to be hosted by former Lady Longhorn coach Cutis Johnson.
On hand to assist the coach will be his daughter Candice, an all-region and all-state hurler for the Lady Longhorns from 2004 to 2008.
The upcoming clinics are set for Dec. 12, 19, 23, 30 and Jan. 9 on the Kiwanis fields at Rumsey Park. The session for beginners will be 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and skills sessions for advanced players are 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The fee is $5 per session.
Moore calls the clinics “an opportunity for girls to learn (fastpitch).”
Also for aspiring players, fielding clinics are scheduled for Dec. 23 and a hitting clinic on Dec. 30.
For both the fielding and hitting clinics, sessions for those 10 years and under will be from 1 to 2 p.m. The 11-year-olds and up will meet 2 to 3 p.m.
Moore predicts the skills learned will help the girls during tryouts, which will be conducted Feb. 20. At the clinics, players will also have the opportunity to sign up for 2010 Little League play.
The registration fee for minor, major and junior league play is $75 until a Feb. 1 deadline. After the deadline the fee is $80.
The fee for the coach pitch league is $50.
Families with more than two children participating will not have to pay for more than two players.
“This year, as a board, we decided (that),” Moore said.