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Softball club swinging into action

Mills student Iyabo Forrest, 22, plays backstop as Julia Gache, 20, prepares to take a swing at the ball. “I just showed up because I like to play,” Forrest said. (Bonnie Horgos)

As softball club members played in front of Mills Hall on Toyon Meadow on a Wednesday evening, the outfielders had one rule for batters: don’t break any windows.

The new club won’t have to worry about shattering a historical landmark’s glass any longer, however; the hitters and throwers are moving their weekly practices to the soccer field.

Shifting scenery isn’t the softball club’s only change, though. With a new faculty advisor, joining members and recently purchased equipment, the Mills softball club is gaining momentum.

“How long has Mills been here?” said Kat Hall, publicity chair and club founder. “I just think softball is fitting; we’re an all-women’s college.”

According to faculty advisor Natalie Spangler, head trainer of A.P.E.R., the club additionally hopes to PLAY in a slow pitch league starting in the spring. This would allow them to casually compete against similar groups in the area.

“If they could join a league, that would be great,” Spangler said. “It’s just for fun; it’s fairly easy and it’s not very competitive.”

Spangler said that joining a league, however, would require the club to have 12 to 13 players; unlike intercollegiate, slow-pitch places five players in the outfield versus four. In addition, everyone can bat. Spangler said slow-pitch’s relaxed rules create a less competitive atmosphere.

“Most of the time, teams don’t practice,” Spangler said. “They just show up and have some fun.”

The club, which meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m., first played ball on September 8 on Toyon Meadow.

“The first meeting was good,” Hall, 22, said. “There were more people who wanted to play.”

Along with Spangler and Hall, softball club president Aisha Gonzalez, played the popular American sport growing up; she first swung the bat beginning at age 11.

“Softball is one of my favorite stress-relievers,” Gonzalez, a sophomore, said. “I’ve been playing it for so long and it’s always been a way to relax. I can just throw the ball and I just feel so much better.”

Gonzalez said she wanted the club to promote similar stress-busting opportunities, opening a door for more potential athletes on campus.

“Having a wider range of sports teams is important,” Gonzalez said. “With the club I hope that A.P.E.R. will understand that we want softball on campus.”

The three club coordinators said they eventually want the group to evolve into a
team. According to Spangler, however, this step would include funding from the National Collegiate Athletics Association.

In order to understand the funding that goes into forming a proper softball team, Hall contacted Morley Kn of Girl on Girl Dodgeball, an organization oriented towards supporting women’s athletics in the Bay Area.  Kn said that equipment alone would cost an estimated $4,900; this includes uniforms, a balls and helmets.

Hall, who graduates this year, said that realistically, though, it would take at least a couple years to get an official intercollegiate team running.

“I would be excited if Mills had a softball team,” Hall said. “I would be a little hurt that it happened after I was here, but I would be excited. I would come to all of the games as an alumni.”