Alberta Newspaper Group
If anyone ever hits a snag trying to find enough females to play on their slo-pitch team, they might want to turn their attention to Foremost, as the small village is now producing players a dozen at a time.
After past years of piecing together field time with exhibition games and practice, Foremost School’s girls slo-pitch team is set for its inaugural season.
“We’ve actually been practising for the last couple of years — we’ve joined with some of the girls that play in Bow Island and Milk River,” says new head coach Heather Ehnis. “I’ve always played growing up, so I wanted to give back and teach these girls how to play slo-pitch.”
The short slo-pitch session began this week with exhibition games against St. Mary’s Monday and Milk River on Tuesday, ahead of the team’s April 29 season opener in Vauxhall. The season all happens within about six weeks, with the year-end tournament in Lethbridge set for June 5.
“A few of the girls have played in other years, and some have played hardball,” Ehnis says of her team, made up girls from Grade 9-12. “I think most of them were part of the few exhibition games and practices we had last year, but they’ve really come a long way and improved a lot.”
Ehnis isn’t sure if the school was allowed in the league prior to this year, but says for whatever reason “the stars aligned and we were able to get into the league this year.” A teacher wrote a letter to the league requesting entrance, which was granted.
Once the team was secure, a group of athletes was needed to fill out the roster. A signup sheet went up following basketball season, and before they knew it they had about a dozen girls interested and on the team.
“It’s looking really good so far,” Ehnis says. “We’ve actually had (professional baseball player) Skyler Stromsmoe come out for a couple practices, teaching the girls about hitting and fielding, so that’s been really helpful.
“For a bunch of girls who haven’t played much before, they’ve sure learned a lot.”
It’s hard to form true expectations in the first year of anything, but Ehnis says no matter how it plays out this spring, sharing the game with new players is the top priority.
“Oh I think everybody here is hoping we’ll win some games, but we want to have fun and continue learning,” Ehnis says. “Mostly I want to teach them to enjoy the game, (whether it be) slo-pitch or baseball.
“It’s one of those games where even as you get older, there are leagues you can continue to play in.”
Without much past it can be extra difficult to predict the future, but with a passionate coach committed and ready to pass off her love of the game, the team is making big strides before even playing an official game.
“I’m just really proud of how far they’ve come and I’m excited that they’re excited about playing,” Ehnis says. “I really love slo-pitch, so I’m excited that these girls want to learn to play.”