Women's fastball worth watching

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western women's fastball

Jon Purdy

PUT IT RIGHT THERE IN THE WHEELHOUSE. The women's fastball team hits, pitches and conditions themselves into prominence, even if they don't get the most publicity.

Head coach Pete Lemon knows his women’s fastball team has it all " skill, chemistry and a championship trophy " the only thing they don’t have is Ontario University Athletics status.

“The main problem right now is funding,” he said. “There is a mandate that eight athletic directors have to vote yes … so although probably a great many athletic directors would like to see it because it is a competitive sport [and] a women’s sport … the problem is it costs money and they don’t have the money to do that.”

Despite their inability to gain OUA status, pitcher Kristina Lemon knows they play at a high calibre.

“I know a lot of people who play slo-pitch ... [they] have an idea of what it is but maybe not at the intensity level or the competitiveness of how we play,” she said.

Western’s fastball team proved they have the athletic ability needed in their Ontario championship last season and their early success this year.

The team competed in the Mustangs Fall Challenge Sept. 7, where they finished just short of gold, losing in the finals to the University of Michigan 2-1.

Coach Lemon is sure this will be the toughest team they will face all season.

“Both of their runs were unearned so it was a close game right to the end,” he said. “They have been playing softball at the national level for over 25 years and this is only our sixth year.”

Keri Lindsay, who plays third base, said their main strength is the number of returning players.

“We have a good group of core starters that are returning and quite a few rookies that show a lot of potential,” she said. “We have increased our coaching staff and added a new conditioning component to our practices.”

The ’Stangs’ skill cannot be denied, but coach Lemon emphasizes the importance of individual character when choosing a team.

“It’s a quality group of individuals,” he said. “This becomes like a family [and] their main strength is the quality of the individuals and their work ethic ... it is as important as ball skill or athletic ability.”

Because women’s fastball is not part of the OUA lineup, a lot of Western students do not know much about it, but Stefanie Valiquette, who plays second base, stressed the importance of Western support for their team.

“We don’t have a field on campus; it is down in Stronach Park at Fanshawe,” she said. “Come check it out, come watch a game and support Western.”

Lemon said when he started coaching he was skeptical about the women’s level of intensity, but he encourages everyone to come out and see for themselves.

“It is a very exciting game,” he said. “I see plays that I just can’t believe.”

The team takes to the diamond in their home opener Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. against Windsor at Stronach Park.

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