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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Bill Pierce’s almanac: GSL softball history

Shadle Park's Sam Skillingstad, in 2006 photo, is one of many top pitchers the GSL has produced over the years.  (File/The Spokesman-Review)
Shadle Park's Sam Skillingstad, in 2006 photo, is one of many top pitchers the GSL has produced over the years. (File/The Spokesman-Review)

When the Greater Spokane League started back in the 1970s, fastpitch softball was not offered fo girls. The league began competition with slowpitch and it remained that way until 1985, when the GSL decided to switch to modified fastpitch.With that decision, the league removed itself from state tournament competition, since at that time there were no fast pitch state tournaments.

As the years went by, more and more leagues and schools adopted fastpitch. In 1992, the first state tournament was sanctioned. To have a 16-team state tournament at least 50 schools have to be participating in a sport.  In 1992, the AAA, AA and A schools who were playing fastpitch combined to make it possible for a tournament to be held. The GSL schools were once again eligible for state, with Ferris and Mead representing the GSL that year. West Valley also made the tournament in its very first year of fastpitch competition.

In 1993, enough AAA and AA schools had adopted fastpitch; they had their own separate tournaments.  Slowpitch also continued to hold tournaments, but in a few years most of the larger schools had switched to fastpitch and few, if any, competed in slowpitch. Eventually, even the smaller schools opted for fastpitch. With the number of schools participating in slowpitch dwindling, the final eight team slowpitch state tournament was held in 2002.

In recent years, slowpitch softball has made a comeback. It’s now played in the fall, with fastpitch athletes taking the field in the spring. Many girls play both versions of the sport.

In a reverse of the early years of the GSL, slowpitch is not played at the state level. Teams can only play for a league and district championship.

With the evolution of both styles, each has now found its own place in the GSL schedule. Perhaps someday, enough teams around the state will once again participate in slowpitch to allow the state to once more sanction tournaments in that sport.

Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.

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