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6 Ways Fragile Confidence is Nurtured or Crushed

6 Ways Fragile Confidence is Nurtured or Crushed

6 Ways Fragile Confidence is Nurtured or Crushed Written By John Michael Kelly

I like to compare a younger athlete’s sports confidence to that of holding a new born baby. Of course extra caution is necessary due to how fragile the infant child is. 



How any parent or coach handles their athlete(s) is no different. In truth how you “hold” your athlete’s confidence matters, for it too is exceptionally fragile. One wrong move and BAM her confidence can shatter, or at the very least develop a large bump on the forehead!



In any given moment with every word spoken, body language gesture or facial expression (after all 90% of our communication as humans is non-verbal, according to a recent UCLA study) your athlete’s sports confidence, like that baby, is either being nurtured or damaged.



As a parent or coach you get to decide whether that precious cargo of “confidence” you are holding, and have so much power to shape, will grow steadily or erode steadily. Here are 6 tips to consider:



1. Are you really being critical or supportive? If you are harping on results or expecting her to do more than she is capable you will damage or stymie her confidence.



2. In the same way you speak praise and support to a toddler attempting their first steps, or a child’s first bike ride your athlete’s confidence needs praise, not criticism or judgment. Words can be very damaging to a young person’s confidence, self-esteem and self-image. Use your words carefully!



3. So often I see and hear parents and coaches getting down on their athlete(s) after a mistake on the field, almost as if the athlete was trying to screw up. I can assure you that your athlete is likely doing her best to master a very difficult sport. Allow those mistakes to be the springboard for learning and growth; not events she is terrified of because of the nasty comments, looks and body language she expects from parent or coach.



4. In truth confidence and competence are tied together. As parent or coach work hard to help your athlete to get better in all facets of their game. Give them the constant encourage and time it takes to improve. The more competent she “feels” she is the more her confidence will naturally grow. If she knows that in your eyes making a mistake isn’t the end of the world you will be amazed, and I say this from personal experience, how much better she will feel about herself…and how much better she will play!



5. Remember that confidence in one area of her game doesn’t guarantee confidence in all areas. By on the lookout for cracks in her confidence and address them in the most supportive way possible. Remind her that she doesn’t have to be perfect (no player is).



6. Enjoy the journey. Her softball days will end someday. Why not be more focused on the creation of great memories for both of you instead of making endless mountains out of mole hills that both erode her sports confidence and drive a wedge of frustration between you both.



My daughter recently left for college and I would do anything to take back so many of the harmful things I said to her out of frustration over the years of her playing softball.



Commit to being different. Focus on what you are “for” instead of what you are “against.” Develop a positive, supportive, nurturing mindset and watch your athlete(s) blossom on and off the diamond!

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Four Sooners Recognized For Academic Success

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“Four Sooners Recognized For Academic Success” Written By Bill Plummer

NORMAN, OKLA – Javen Henson, Shelby Pendley, Jessica Vest and Kelsey Stevens have more in common besides being a member of the OU softball team. Each is an All-America Scholar Athlete for the 2013-14 season as recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Student-athletes need a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher to earn this recognition.

Student-athletes need a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher to earn such distinction.

A three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree and health and exercise science major, Henson played in 50 games for the Sooners with 40 starts. She led the team in sacrifice bunts with nine and sacrifice flies with three. Henson was a senior during the 2013-14 season.

Pendley, majoring in multidisciplinary studies with an emphasis in coaching and leadership, was a 2014 NFCA First-Team All-American and member of the 2014 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team. She batted .444 in the WCWS. She started all 64 games and led the Big 12 in batting average, hits, runs, home runs, doubles, RBI, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Vest is a two-time Academic All-District honoree and has twice been named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. A multidisciplinary studies major with an emphasis in health and society, Vest played in 55 games a year ago with 38 starts.

Majoring in entrepreneurship, Stevens was a 2014 All-Region Second Team and 2014 All-Big 12 First Team honoree. She tied for the national lead in wins with 38, setting an OU single-season record along the way. She also set Oklahoma records for appearances (57) and starts (50) in one season. She led the Big 12 in innings pitched, appearances, games started and tied for the conference lead in complete games.

Motivation: Inspire Fight

Motivation: Inspire Fight


“Motivation: Inspire Fight” Written By Charity Butler

When players become distracted or lazy, fire them up! Let them have it. Hitting expert, Rob Crews, says never: “put a smiley face on mediocrity.”
To effectively motivate players, though, approach discipline wisely. Rather than settling for insincerely compliant players who simply fear you, find a way to motivate girls to fight from the depths of themselves.

Genuine motivation is inspired by more than consequences. It challenges players in their hearts. Motivation elicits the untapped courage that many players do not even realize exists within them.

According to hitting guru Rob Crews, “Real power-hitting is rooted in the power of a thought. Winning thoughts. Confident thoughts. Overcoming thoughts. Thoughts of resilience. Some people aren’t even capable of having such thoughts. People fake thoughts that don’t match what is truly in their heart. Therefore, changing the heart changes the thought processes, which has an authentic effect on intent and response. For example, positive thinking won’t work if in your heart, you don’t truly believe you will get it done.”

To deeply motivate players it is essential to connect with them as people, especially during disciplinary situations. Touching the heart and simultaneously demanding excellence is tremendously challenging. To accomplish such a lofty task requires understanding the fundamental difference between shame and guilt.

According to University of Houston research professor, Dr. Brene Brown, shame is a focus on self that screams, “I am bad.” Guilt, on the other hand, is a focus on behavior. “I did something bad.”

Shame: After a player has bobbled yet another ground ball to her backhand side in practice, “You are terrible!”

Guilt: “You are an incredible second baseman, so we have to figure out how to fix this backhand. Today it is terrible! There is always a physical reason, and we are going to find it.”

Guilt is uncomfortable, yet beneficial. Guilt does not sugarcoat, but it allows players to separate themselves as people from their actions as performers on the field.

Too often, athletes inextricably link self-worth to performance. If they play well, they feel valuable. They are on top of the world. Conversely, if they perform poorly they believe they are worthless.

Players shame themselves without even realizing it. Speaking from experience, this is an unhealthy perspective that does not encourage consistent success. Feelings of shame are highly correlated with addiction, depression, aggression, violence, suicide and bullying.

It is easy for others to say, “It is just a game,” but most of us know the agony of finding our worth in our ERA, batting average or win/lose record. With such high stakes attached to a player’s (or a coach’s) personal success, the ability to push the limits toward greatness is diminished.

If a fastpitch player believes she is only worth what she can do, then her value is tied to the ever-changing level of success she experiences in a game of failure. How miserable!

If, however, she is foundationally confident that she is worth more than her on-field accolades, she is much more likely to improve as an athlete and play well consistently.

Shame corrodes this capacity for improvement because growth inevitably requires a measure of failure.

Shame says, “You are not good enough and you never will be.” Shame is hopeless. Shame breeds fear, and fearful players will not consistently maximize performance.

Courage is required by those willing to live wholeheartedly. Those who refuse to retreat at the prospect of failure are fully alive. They are free to relentlessly play, perform, fail, recover and conquer.

According to Dr. Brown, “Vulnerability is not about winning, it’s not about losing. It is about having the courage to show up and be seen.” This courage generates its share of disappointment but also triggers success.

Give your players the courage to be seen, to be vulnerable, to play with reckless abandon, to go hard without fear of loss or failure. Discipline them, but always value them for who they are and not only what they can do.

The freedom this perspective creates is priceless. When a player feels valued, the motivation inspired in her will overflow from the heart! Relentless fight starts in the heart.

Be willing to extend this same grace to yourself. Value yourself as a human being, rather than a human doing. Let others see your heart.

Take courage. Be vulnerable. Show up. Be seen. Find freedom. Inspire fight.

How to Motivate Your Daughter to Practice

How to Motivate Your Daughter to Practice By Keri Casas

“How to Motivate Your Daughter to Practice” Written By Keri Casas

You pay money for lessons, you travel to all her practices and games, you pay for her to be on the team, but she won’t practice.  You put in all the time and effort you can, because she says she loves the game and wants to play, but won’t put in the work to get better.  So what do you do?  How do you get your daughter to WANT to practice without nagging her daily? 

First things first. You can NEVER force a girl to do something they don’t want to do.  The more you push, nag, demand, force, etc, the more she will rebel.  She won’t want to practice if you make it an obligation.  The sport is fun, it’s a game to them, and when you make it a job, they won’t want to play anymore.  If you want your female athlete to practice, let them make the decision to practice.  If they really want to get better and really want to play at a high level, they will.

Secondly, let your daughter decide when it’s time to practice.  If it’s your idea to practice, for some unknown reason in adolescent female complexity, they won’t want to practice.  Even if you aren’t nagging or yelling or demanding, they will take it that way.  They want control in their lives and feel they have earned that right to decide what they want to do with their time. 

Third and final point.  If your daughter doesn’t want to do it, don’t let her do it.  If she isn’t willing to work for her goals, then you need to find another source of motivation.  Now I’m not saying that recreational sports require mass amounts of training and dedication, but if they are looking to pursue collegiate goals, they do need to find determination and work to earn glory.  Allowing your daughter to take lesson after lesson, play on the best team only to sit on the bench, and/or traveling all over the United States to play tournaments is just a waste of your time and money.
 Let your daughter earn lessons; let her earn playing time and traveling to big tournaments.  Not only will this better her dedication to the game, but her work ethic, drive, and discipline to work towards her overall goal.  If she just wants to play recreationally to socialize and be a part of a team, that’s fine; but if she really wants to earn the guts and glory, she has to practice. 

If the sport is your daughter’s dream, then she will practice.  She will be self-motivated to work towards her goal.  Even though she doesn’t need you to tell her when to practice, she may need your help.  Take your daughter to lessons, take her out to practice, watch her train, etc.  Even though you don’t need to be her coach, you can be her support system.  The more willing you are to go out to a field or workout with her; the more she will want to do so often.  Don’t let her use you as an excuse to why she can’t practice or go to lessons.  If you are able to help, be there for your daughter.
 
 
Key Points to Motivating your Daughter to Practice:
 
1. You can’t force a female athlete to practice.  The more you push, nag, and yell at them to practice, the less willing they are to do it.  Eventually, they will dislike the sport because it becomes a job rather than a game.
2. Let your daughter decide when it’s time to practice.  She wants it to be HER idea to practice, not yours.
3. If your daughter doesn’t want to do it, don’t let her.  If she wants to practice and play at the next level she will.  Be her support system when you can and be there to help her better herself.

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Does TV Affect Early Recruiting?

Does TV Affect Early Recruiting?

“Does TV Affect Early Recruiting?” Written By Jami Lobpries

I read a quote recently in a Boston Globe article talking about why fans ignore women’s sports. The author said, “it takes a lot of work to be a women’s sports fan.” What the author meant was that it’s hard to be a fan of women’s sports because you have to work so hard to find information—whether it’s live games on tv, player stories and stats, or even to buy merchandise of your favorite female athlete. Information on women’s sports and female athletes is not readily available. Thus, if you want to be a lifetime or consistent fan of women’s sports then it takes a lot of work.

I teach intro to sport management courses at the University of Tampa. What that means is I teach first year sport management students or students with a minor in sport management about what career opportunities exist in the vast sport industry. Being the women’s sport enthusiast that I am, I joke to my friends that I’m spreading awareness of women’s professional sports one sport management undergrad student at a time! With that mindset, I asked my students recently why they don’t watch women’s sports and you know what a common answer amongst my 50 students was? It’s never on! Again, it takes work to find women’s sports.

In my world of sport marketing research, we refer to this phenomenon as framing. In regards to media, framing defines how media coverage can shape mass opinion. For example, the massive amounts of media coverage of men’s sports over women’s sports help frame society’s opinion that women’s sports are inferior to men’s sports.

One thing that has become more common, and will continue to grow with the surge of conference networks, is college softball on television. I played from 2005-2008 when the Women’s College World Series was really blowing up and when the new post season structure had just been implemented. Every year since then, we have seen growing coverage of Super Regionals, Regionals, Conference tournaments, and now even regular season games. What that means is college softball fans don’t have to work as hard to be college softball fans AND hopefully it means we are gaining new fans—those mainstream fans who happen to be watching ESPN when a game comes on or those avid sports bar viewers.

Another interesting thing this means is we are creating framing even within our own sport. We live in a world of early recruiting—14, 15, 16 year olds are verbally committing to schools that they won’t even attend until 4, 3, or 2 years down the road. What schools do most kids want to go to? Easy, the ones they see on TV!

I’ll use my former 12U team as an example. I loved asking them where they wanted to go to school because their brutal honesty was priceless. My centerfielder wants to go to Oregon because “their uniforms, duh.” My pitcher wanted to go to Oklahoma because that’s where Keilani Ricketts played. My first baseman/outfielder wanted to go to Florida because “they’re so pretty and they wear cute bows.” And another utility player wanted to go to Alabama because she loved the way Hailey McCleney played.

Their decisions were heavily influenced by the softball they consumed on television. The coverage of particular softball teams was framing their view on college programs. The more games that were on tv, the more their decisions changed. Now, I will be the first to say this is a great problem because it means we have a lot of softball on TV. It means our young girls can watch role models who look like them. It means our athletes get an opportunity to showcase their talents to large audiences. And it means that hopefully our sport will continue to grow at all levels-youth, college, professional, and hopefully even Olympic.

But the interesting thing that is happening is how framing and the influx of college softball on television is shaping our early recruiting. [Side note—I also hate early recruiting and don’t have a problem sharing that!].

I’m not writing this article to tell college coaches to become better marketers or to tell ESPN and CBS to showcase more schools. Instead, I’m writing this article to bring light to framing and how it influences young girls decisions on the colleges they chose to attend.

If you’re a travel ball coach or a parent, you might want to make sure you ask your daughter or player “why” they really want to go to that school. Yes, cool uniforms, bows, and school colors catch your eye and play a large role in the aesthetics of a softball player with big dreams, but does that softball program offer an academic degree you’re interested in? Does that coach fit your learning style? Does that college town or city fit your personality? Will you mesh with the kinds of players that coach brings in? Deeper questions that a 17, 16, and now 15 and 14 years old have to make.

I think it’s funny though that at the age of 14, us girls were WAYYY more interested in cool uniforms and pretty bows than we are in potential college majors and the academic rating of a university.

Something to think about.

In the meantime, I hope softball coverage at all ages continues to grow. I know I’m biased, but I believe our sport offers one of the best made-for-television sport viewing opportunities there are. But as I continue to my own continuous sport viewing on tv and realize how framing affects some of my own decisions, I wanted to bring light to how sport coverage can shape the decision process of our young athletes.

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LSU Gets Player To Commit Before She Plays High School Softball

LSU gets player to commit before she finishes high school softball

“LSU Gets Player To Commit Before She Finishes High School Softball” Written By Bill Plummer

High school softball players usually commit sometime during their high school career. It’s rare when an athlete commits even before starting their high school career or even before she played her first game of her freshman season.

But although Shelby Wickersham of New Orleans, LA hasn’t played her first season of high school softball, she knows where she wants to go to college to play softball–=LSU. Shelby has already committed to LSU despite the fact she won’t graduate from high school until 2018.

While some may wonder why Shelby committed so early, Shelby didn’t have any problem in committing earlier than normal. “It feels like I am in a dream. I never would have thought that I would have committed this early, but I am super happy it worked out the way it did. I’m glad to have the recruiting process over and now I can just focus on developing into being the best pitcher I can possibly be.”

Already 5-foot-11 Shelby also played volleyball and basketball in addition to softball, and in fact had made the varsity volleyball team at Mt. Carmel High School in New Orleans. But after talking to her travel ball coaches, she decided to concentrate only on softball. They advised her that to get to the next level of softball to concentrate on her pitching and getting out to different exposure tournaments.

Before committing to LSU, Shelby went on unofficial visits to Alabama, South Alabama and Mississippi and had a few visits planned in the fall. She, however, cancelled them after committing to LSU. “I always knew that LSU was truly where I wanted to be, but I wanted to keep other options open just in case it did not work out, Shelby told FullCountSoftball.com

LSU coaches watched Shelby play in different tournaments and soon after they offered her an unofficial visit. During the visit LSU offered her a scholarship and she didn’t waste time in saying “yes.”

“I had always known that LSU was the first choice, so I committed within ten minutes of them offering. It was truly the best option for me because it was exactly what I was looking for, and no other school could beat it. It’s close to home, has great coaches and is one of the top softball programs in the country. It has the prettiest campus, the nicest facilities with great academics, and in the best location- it just cannot be anymore perfect, “said Shelby.

As we all know alot can happen during an athlete’s high school, or college year, but Wickersham is happy with her choice, and she figures to only get better during her four years of high school softball. She hasn’t played her first high school game “but is looking forward to being part of the team. Mount Carmel has many amazing athletes, and I am very blessed and humbled to play with them.”

Wickersham,who throws in the 63 miles per hour range, led her travel ball team to the USSSA 12-under championship and she was named the tournament MVP. She said that was one of the top highlights of her career and who knows what the future holds for this precious young pitcher who knows where she is headed and figures to have more highlights in her ever developing career. Only time will tell.

A Self-Assessment: Confidence, Cockiness, Self-Esteem & Self-Respect

A Self-Assessment


A Self-Assessment: Confidence, Cockiness, Self-Esteem & Self-Respect Written By Charity Butler

The Dove® soap company hired Gil Zamora, a Forensic Artist trained by the FBI, to conduct an experiment in self-perception. Without seeing his subject, Gil sat on the opposite side of a curtain sketching with his pencil while asking the person to describe herself. He drew her image based on the description alone.

This process was repeated with a number of individuals. After describing themselves, the subjects were then asked to describe another person they met while waiting to be sketched. Each participant ended the experiment with two sketches, one created from her own description and one drawn based on the description of the stranger. The artist did not get a glimpse of the subjects until all sketches were complete.

The resulting images were rather shocking. In each case, the pictures were obviously related but the self-described image was much more harsh and unbecoming than the likeness described by the stranger. This experiment depicts a difficult truth: we tend to view ourselves more cruelly than others view us.

In our culture, increased self-esteem is the automatically assumed remedy for the predisposition toward negative self-perception. Today in the US, the concept of increasing self-esteem is almost fashionable.

A simple Google search provides pages upon pages of information, evaluations, tests, tips, tricks, and curriculum geared toward increasing self-esteem.

In light of these popular notions, Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s observation may seem abrasive and potentially offensive: “Of all groups in the United States, convicted murderers are said to have the highest levels of self-esteem.” He further explains, “This makes sense… To kill someone else, you must think quite a lot of yourself.”

To understand more fully, consider Rabbi Lapin’s follow-up explanation: “Self-esteem is what you gain when you haven’t achieved anything and thus don’t deserve any self-respect.

The difference in self-esteem and self-respect seems trivial, but the disparity could not be more significant. Based on dictionary definitions, self-esteem is an “exaggeratedly favorable impression of oneself,” unwarranted thoughts without underlying substance. Self-respect, on the other hand, is “proper esteem for the dignity of one’s character or integrity”.

Building on the example above, convicted murderers generally maintain an unrealistically positive image of themselves and lack character or integrity. Using an extreme example makes a point, but the same concepts can be very real and applicable to our lives as coaches and as people in general.

On the field, I liken these concepts to the ideas of confidence and cockiness. Cockiness is basically self-esteem, thinking very highly of oneself without putting in the time, effort and energy to back up the big head. Confidence, on the other hand, is backed by proper preparation and results in genuine self-respect.

Would you rather coach a player with high self-esteem or high self-respect? We all know players with exaggeratedly favorable impressions of themselves. In my experience, players like this are more likely to cause trouble in a program. These are the kids who may be very talented but usually lead the way in making poor choices. When faced with consequences, they start a resulting full-team punishment workout with a smug grin. It sometimes seems that in their own minds (and many times in the eyes of their parents) they can do no wrong. These players are exhausting!

On the other hand, players with real character and integrity are the kids that encourage and lead the team through those difficult days despite their own pain and suffering.

Without hesitation, I would sign a less talented player with true confidence and solid self-respect over a cocky kid reeking of high self-esteem and entitlement.
In my book Prep Steps™ 31 day guide to success for female Student-Athletes, I tell girls plainly, “Don’t act better than others… work hard to improve so you can really be better! When you push yourself and work hard, you earn the right to confidence.”

Self-respect, like confidence, must be earned. It is the consequence of discipline and resulting achievement.

Although the Dove® experiment focused solely on the physical attributes of people, negative self-perceptions are more deeply rooted than appearance only.
Unkindness and disrespect incubate internally and surface in subtle ways. We tend to speak harshly to or of ourselves, sometimes without realizing it. Mental discipline requires the most personal control and restraint.

One of my routine thoughts following an absentminded mistake: “Wow, I’m an idiot.” When my mistake affects someone else, I will usually follow the line above with, “I am so sorry!”

These responses sound rather ordinary and quite insignificant, but the effects of seemingly innocent words can be subconsciously powerful.

“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life,” shares Robert Kiosaki, “it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!”

In the past, the word idiot was used in the field of psychology to describe “a person of the lowest order in a discarded classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.”

Psychologists no longer use the word because it is considered offensive. The same professionals with the expertise to diagnose people as legitimately psychotic will not use the word idiot to describe others, yet I use the word regularly when referring to myself?!

Furthermore to say, “I am sorry” is to say, “I’m wretched, poor, useless, and pitiful.” Wow, how harsh!

In light of this understanding, I try to replace the typical “I’m sorry” response with words that more properly convey regret: “I apologize” or “please forgive me”.

Quite often we are subconsciously cruel to ourselves, but the value of kindness to and patience with oneself is refreshing, powerful and ultimately practical.
According to Ayn Rand, author of The Virtue of Selfishness, “The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.”

Being kind to and confident in ourselves is not selfish. In fact, it is one of the most selfless skills we can learn. It is difficult and requires great self-control.

A person who develops a strong foundation of self-respect is then capable of more highly valuing others. We become better at working with people, motivating people and encouraging people. Others esteem us, we respect ourselves and ultimately we are healthier and better equipped to positively impact the world.

The discipline of kindness to ourselves does not make us weak but stronger and more effective than we could imagine. We must first understand and value ourselves before we can truly understand and value the world.

The Ancient Greeks sum it up in two words: “Know thyself.”

Fastpitch Softball Magazine issue 26

Issue 26 of The Fastpitch Magazine Published By Gary Leland

I am happy to bring you this month’s issue of the Fastpitch Softball Magazine, which is now available for you Apple devices, and available for Android devices too.

Welcome to issue 26 of the Fastpitch Magazine. The Fastpitch magazine has been bringing you more fastpitch softball than anyone on the planet for two full years.

This month starts off with Sherry Werner’s article “To Leap Or Not To Leap”.

Then Mitch Alexander’s article is “Halloween Can Be Scarey. getting Hit By A Batted Ball Is A Nightmare.”.

Bill Plummer explains “It Takes Alot To Play Softball”.

Charity Butler writes Part one of three “Maximizing Power: Strategic Strength”.

Coach Dalton has his article “My Favorite Aspect Of The Game”.

Arron Weintraub’s article is “Better Than Magic: Imagery”.

Jen Cronebeger writes “The Art Of Losing Gracefully.

Rob Cruise’s article this month is “Invisible Hitting Mechanics”.

We have a new writer joining the writing staff at The Fastpitch Magazine this month. Chezare’ Sievers first article is Hitting Tips & Drills for Tee Ball & Coach Pitch Girls.

The Exclusive clinic this month is from former Olympian Leah O’Brien Amico “Bunting and Slapping”.

All this and more in this months issue.

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The Fastpitch Directory is a Hit

Fastpitch Search

The Fastpitch Directory is a Hit Written By Keri Casas

Whether you are new to travel ball or looking for a different team, The Fastpitch Directory is the latest and greatest tool in your Fastpitch softball search!

The NEW Fastpitch Directory is simple, direct, and easy to use in your search for a travel ball team. The site breaks down available teams by state, region, and age group so you aren’t stuck scrolling through unnecessary information. Furthermore, coaches are able to post positions they are looking to fill; making your search even easier to filter!

What is the best part of The Fastpitch Directory? Zero Spam. Unlike many “team posting” forums, the site does not allow for members sell product or tournaments, clinics, businesses, or to talk poorly of other teams, players, or coaches; it deletes any posts disregarding its basic concept.

If you want an easy, stress-free search for the perfect team for your family’s needs, Fastpitch Directory is the way to go! You can find the main page at www.Fastpitch.Directory

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