Fargo fastpitch undergoes positive change ahead of summer
Fargo Youth Baseball and Fargo Area Fastpitch team up to create a better experience for local softball players.
FARGO — When the ball dropped at midnight, a new endeavor set forth with the interests of Fargo's softball players in mind.
On New Year's Day, Fargo Youth Baseball and local fastpitch softball teams began a partnership to offer a better experience for players and develop the sport within the area. The organized group of fastpitch teams will operate with the name Fargo Area Fastpitch.
At the end of 2023, Fargo Youth Baseball will be rebranded under the name Fargo Area Sports.
The organization's president and CEO Alex Sumner said the decision to merge the two sports under one name is something the city has needed for a while.
"The community support has been positive as we go through this transition," Sumner said. " 'About time' was one of the things parents said during our meetings. Now we're starting to see other organizations ask about (the merger) and how they can get involved."
Fargo Youth Baseball's motto "Kids First" is something the organization's officials consider before making any decisions. Sumner said his organization can truly honor the mission now that it's providing both girls and boys an opportunity to play summertime sports.
With amenities like the ATTIC (All-Terrain Training Indoor Center), girls looking to get off-season work will have a place to make that a reality. The 11,000 square foot facility has six batting cages and a fully turfed infield. The ATTIC will assist players getting ready for the season, which is something that the new organization will provide.
"We've allocated Friday and Saturday nights just for fastpitch," Sumner said. "One of our goals is to increase player development."
Fargo South High Schools softball coach Molly Lundon is currently organizing nightly sessions for players looking to get some repetitions in before the spring season.
The move is not meant to break up teams, but rather to put the teams under one roof. The teams joining the organization are the Fargo Lady Eagles, Fargo South and Fargo North summer teams.
Lady Eagles president Shane Davidson said the merger creates a lot of growth for the sport all across the metro area.
"We thought it was a perfect combination to get more exposure and resources to expand the program," Davidson said. "We want all girls to have access to (a fastpitch team) no matter where they live or their talent level."
Davidson started with the Lady Eagles through his daughter who plays. He said he was excited when he heard about the partnership with Fargo Youth Baseball. Between trying to grow his organization and fighting for playing fields, the partnership was a match made in heaven with the two programs having "similar goals."
Despite the largely positive response among members of the various organizations, there still were some with reservations about the plan. Some, including Davidson, thought that the creation of a larger organization was merely about making money. But a chat with Sumner quickly changed his mind.
"I don't have any fears any more about joining a large organization because it's only going to help us," Davidson said. "Our main goal is to increase awareness and to allow the public to see what we can do. There have been some good teams but we want to go ahead and improve that."
Davidson said Fargo Area Fastpitch will be looking to get some collegiate and former high-school players to come and help within the organization.
"Whoever has the best knowledge for the program moving forward, we definitely want them to be a part of it." Davidson said.
For Sumner and Fargo Area Sports, a long-term goal is to increase the organization's resources with the help of the community and sponsors to cater to a growing population.
"We like to involve the community as much as we can," Sumner said. "Because of the community's support, it's allowed us to have a facility like the ATTIC. So we're hopeful that we can build another facility and work with the park district on new fields."
Fastpitch is available in the spring for 6-8th graders and players 6- to 18-years old in the summer. Registration for both fastpitch leagues closes on March 1.