Doug Hogan remembers heading to the local softball fields for fastpitch games back in the day and the current Jamestown Parks and Rec director could be headed to more in the future.
"I certainly wouldn't be against it," Hogan said. "I think it would certainly be nice to be able to have that again."
A group of high school, college and post-college fastpitch softball players have begun meeting on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. at Trapper Field. The weekly pickup games are some of the first adult fastpitch games played in Jamestown since Jamestown offered fastpitch exclusively.
"There's kind of a lot of reasons why we are doing this," said Jamestown Outlaws 18U coach Mike Soulis, who's helped to organize the games. "Usually after they get out of those 18U programs around the state or in the cities, they don't have that opportunity to play anymore. Hopefully, these pickup games allow that."
The group of fastpitch players has also played at Field 10 of the Stefonek Softball Complex.
"I've just been playing for fun - facing some of the girls who play around the area and are a little bit younger than us has been a good opportunity for them and a fun opportunity for us," 2018 University of Jamestown graduate Brittany Rheault said. "It's fun because I played against some of the girls that are playing with us, like Kadie Anderson, in college, so it's kind of fun to get to see them again."
Soulis and current UJ softball coach Kevin Gall collaborated in getting the group of current and former players together for the Wednesday night games. Anderson, a 2015 Jamestown High School grad and Cora Zackrison, current graduate assistant coach for UJ softball, echoed Rheault's sentiments regarding the melding pot of area talent.
"I would love to see a fastpitch league come out of this group," Zackrison said. "Ever since I got too old to play in a summer league, I started coaching to stay close to the game but I still miss playing every day."
Rheault and Anderson added that they think there are enough local players and former players in the surrounding Fargo, Jamestown and Bismarck areas who would be interested in playing in a fastpitch league.
"I lived in Bismarck right after college (May 2018) until December (2019), and there are so many players that are playing slowpitch but they played fastpitch in their college days and when they were younger," Rheault said. "So I think there are definitely enough numbers."
The numbers of post-college players aren't the only ones that are high right now.
"Our numbers are increasing tremendously both in the schools and in the summer programs," Soulis said. "The more you play at the younger levels the more bodies you are going to have to do this type of stuff.
"Like everything else, once you start something it's going to take a lot to get the feet down and running with it."
Soulis said another reason for starting the pickup games is to create a series of role models for those a few years behind in talent and age.
"Last week we had our 16U and 18U teams play with these girls, which was awesome because we want those girls who have played college ball or been through the Jamestown program to kind of give back," Soulis said. "Our girls really enjoyed playing those girls - it's kind of a role model effect. I think that is going to be another reason to keep doing this type of stuff."
Rheault said it's also been good to see the talent in the Jamestown area and see how the sport has grown even since she and her contemporaries were playing competitively.
"I think this group is beneficial to the community, especially during these times, because it’s so nice to just get out and play without any pressure and the goal is to just get out and have fun, Zackrison said. "I’ve observed after playing again that this group brings people together, and gives a chance for girls to meet new players from surrounding areas and hopefully make new friends."
Soulis said he doesn't think a fastpitch league will likely materialize in the short term but hopes the weekly games can be a catalyst for one in the future.
"I think that people should take the opportunity to go out and watch a fastpitch game if they haven’t been to one," Zackrison said. "It’s a great game and I think people would be really surprised at how competitive the girls get and how exciting the game can be."