Efforts to revive fast-pitch softball moved forward yesterday with Tony Satur and Pina Magofna discussing plans with Northern Marianas Sports Association vice president Dr. Kurt Barnes on what needs to be done to reorganize the sport.
The CNMI was once a softball powerhouse in the region with Satur, CNMI Sports Hall of Fame inductee, even playing for Guam in the World Championships when the Commonwealth was still under the Trust Territory of the United States in the late ’70s. Guam placed fourth.
Interest in fast-pitch softball waned over the years especially with an inactive association that could develop the sport at the grassroots level.
Barnes said Satur emailed him a couple of weeks ago to discuss the possibility of bringing back the sport that he loved and played a long time. Satur then invited Magofna, who is also a softball player, to attend the first meeting.
“We have no solid answers yet. But what we need is to have a solid group of committed people to sit down and plan everything on how to revive fast-pitch softball,” said Barnes, who was involved in promoting various youth sports programs on Saipan for more than 40 years.
“The skill level is there, they could be world class players. Cecilia Lisua, who was also inducted to the CNMI Sports Hall of Fame, could hit like a man. Before, I also have a team of young girls from Oleai and their skill level too is pretty high,” added Barnes.
The former Marianas High School teacher said the CNMI’s softball players’ skill level is already there. “It’s just a matter of reviving interest and develop it, especially at the grassroots.”
Magofna said that getting more people involve would make the plan of bringing back softball more concrete. “I know a number of people who want to help. All it needs is one person who will lead the group.”
The three agreed that the new softball group should focus more with the youth especially those who are playing in the Marianas Interscholastic Sports Organization.
“After MISO these girls have no other league to play in. It would be better if there’s another league where they could develop more their skills, like a year-long thing,” said Magofna.
“There are a lot of talented girls in the MISO program. They are not yet the best players but with proper training and guidance by the coaches, they could become some of the finest,” added Satur, who was inducted to the CNMI Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Securing a field solely for training and playing fast-pitch softball and having certified umpires are the only concern of the three. The Capital Hill field was discussed as the facility that could be reserved if the plan would materialize.
“A field should always be available for fast-pitch softball. If we could secure and rebuild it, make it playable then we could see interest in fast-pitch softball going back. Capital Hill should be available since no tournament was played there for sometime,” Satur said.
Barnes added that they won’t face any problem with umpires since there are a number of certified persons who could call the shots, plus Tony Rogolifoi or Satur could also hold clinics to certify new ones.