Softball in the Interhigh will undergo a radical change next year if coaches finally convince league commissioner Otto Jordan to allow windmill pitching. But this season, most coaches agree that even a severe alteration of the rules probably could not prevent Eastern from repeating as league champion.
Interhigh coaches have proposed the change to fast pitch for three years, but the league has continued to play modified fast pitch, in which a pitcher can not bring her arm back above the height of her shoulder. Ballou Coach Wanda Oates said Interhigh teams will have to make several moves in preparation for the change, which she says Jordan has agreed to in principle, but the alterations will be well worth the effort.
"The coaches want the windmill; right now we are the only league in the entire Washington area playing modified softball," said Oates. "We have some excellent players in the Interhigh, but they haven't been adapted to windmill. They have an even harder time adapting once they get to college, but we can't even make the All-Met team because of the way we play. Our players can't get college scholarships because of it."
If the proposal is approved, Oates said the league will have to run clinics on windmill pitching for players and coaches. "A lot of the coaches don't know anything about windmill pitching either," she said.
If this spring's Interhigh season goes as expected, Eastern will be conducting clinic-like games.
"I see Eastern doing it again if they have the same players as last year," said Coolidge Coach Ada Mitchell.
The Ramblers lost only one player, Daisy Williams, from a team that went 12-0 and rarely was tested by opponents, but Eastern Coach Pat Sheppard is not "counting her eggs before they are hatched."
"I don't know what the other schools have," said Sheppard.
Other coaches, however, know exactly what Eastern has.
Sheppard has two outstanding players returning in pitcher Helen Turner and catcher Tracy Manning.
Manning is probably one of the better athletes in the Interhigh. She was a first-team all-league volleyball player and a second-team basketball player. She was selected first team All-Interhigh in softball last year.
Other returning veterans include Roslyn Durham at first base, Angela Holley at second and Kim Hall at shortstop. Donna Thomas, Toi Byrd and Phillis Fields are experienced outfielders.
Ballou is trying to remain a "secret" to the other coaches in the league, but Oates thinks her team will be competitive in league play.
Donna Davis, an All-Interhigh selection at catcher last year as a sophomore, and senior pitcher Esther Burwell return to give Ballou a solid nucleus. Center fielder LaTanya Nelson, who had two hits, including a home run, in Ballou's 24-13 opening victory last week over Cardozo, provides power in the batting order.
The left side of the infield also will be strong with junior Robin Walker at shortstop and senior Trina Williams at third.
Dunbar returns five veterans. Coach Roy Westmore, who predicts his team will finish in the middle of the pack, will try to work the same magic he did as coach of the boys basketball team, which defeated DeMatha in the consolation to the City Title game this winter. He has centerfielder Tasha Bennett, shortstop Teresa Jones, pitcher Tracy Thomas and right fielder Deidre Williams returning.
At Coolidge, Mitchell has outfielder Tamik Brown and pitcher Linda Lawson returning from last year's 6-4 squad. Mitchell will have to rely on a young team to be among the top six teams that advance to the playoffs.
Spingarn has four veterans returning in infielder Carla Davis, outfielder Kim Davis, pitcher-first baseman Tanya Perkins and second baseman Shelia Seay.
McKinley will build around shortstop Pricsila Brown and outfielder Marilyn Allen, both juniors.
Even Wilson -- the traditional power in Interhigh softball -- must go through a rebuilding year because of graduation. Coach Glenda Holmes will look to regroup behind veterans Michelle Brown, a first baseman who hit over .700 last season, third baseman Gretchen Barry (.400) and catcher-shortstop Carol Leary (.500).
For Anacostia, Cardozo, Theodore Roosevelt and H.D. Woodson, heavy graduation tolls make the spring outlook even dimmer.