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Island ladies take to the diamond, enjoy the sport for themselves

By Staff | Jun 24, 2009

For the first time in more than a decade, the ladies are doing things for themselves at the Sanibel Ball Fields.

Last Wednesday night, the inaugural outing of the newly-formed Women’s Softball League – a weekly casual pickup game organized via the city’s Recreation Department – began play.

Well, almost.

Heeding the warning of the city’s recently installed Lightning Prediction System, about two dozen ladies shuffled off the diamond after taking batting practice and fielding drills prior to what they had planned to be their first ballgame.

Despite the fact that their scrimmage had to be postponed due to Mother Nature’s interference, none of the players seemed to mind.

“I think that this is great, getting together and playing only with women,” said Tracy Brunner, who mentioned that she had previously played softball with the island’s co-ed league. “There, we’re hanging out with all of the guys. They like to spend hours just talking about football and stuff. We just want to play the game.”

According to Nick Brown, a member of Sanibel’s Recreation Department, a number of female players from the Adult Softball League inquired about forming a women-only league.

“Some of the moms from the Little League mentioned it, too,” said Brown, who explained that the city operated a women’s softball league as recently as the early 1990s. That league ceased due to lack of participation.

From the enthusiasm shown at last week’s practice, a new league – either formal or informal – may indeed be possible. Brown noted that in order for the city to consider sponsoring an organized women’s softball league, they would need approximately 56 players (14 players per team, with a four team minimum) to signup.

But for now, pickup games are good enough, several players indicated.

“I like to play softball,” said Holly McIntosh of Sanibel. “I used to play in high school back in Michigan, and I play every year in the Mother/Daughter (Little League) game. It’s a lot of fun and good exercise.”

Grabbing her glove and heading out to take part in some fielding drills, she turned around and added with a smile, “But I’m probably gonna be really sore tomorrow!”

Deb Gleason remembers playing softball in the city league back in the 1970s. She thinks that the sport may be ready for a comeback on Sanibel.

“A lot more women were playing softball back then. We had about six teams,” Gleason said. “I know a lot of the women began playing tennis, because you only need two people to play that.”

Caroline Cooper of Fort Myers, who came to the Sanibel Ball Fields along with her daughter Samantha, a student at Cypress Lake High School, thinks that more ladies should take advantage of participating in the free weekly activity.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to have fun and explore your athletic abilities,” she added.

Players who are interested in taking part in the women’s softball league – starting each Wednesday at 6 p.m. – need only to bring their own glove and proper footwear; balls and bats are provided by the city’s Recreation Department. For additional information, contact the Sanibel Rec Center at 472-0345.