“Why couldn’t we play five?” she joked.
Unlike its spring team sports siblings — baseball, soccer and lacrosse — softball is an anomaly. While most school teams — regardless of sport — typically play no more than two games per week, a rash of rescheduled dates have forced teams to double that workload on some weeks, challenging some teams and players’ collective strength and stamina.
Softball players, though, are accustomed to playing plenty of games in a short span. Year-round travel teams play as many as four or five games on a single weekend day during the summer.
While baseball pitchers are limited to 14 innings over a seven-day period in Maryland and 10 innings on consecutive days in Virginia, softball pitchers face no limitations. The underhand motion is considered more natural and puts less strain on an arm, making pitching depth less crucial to sustain a busy stretch.
“Pitchers during the weekend are going to throw three, four games in a day,” said Westfield softball Coach Dean Ferington, whose team is five games behind in its schedule, and that includes playing three games on April 18, the first day of spring break. “They can handle that.”
As a catcher, Gebele might play the most physically demanding position for a softball player.
“I’ve played five or six games in a day before, so one game [a day] is nothing,” said Gebele, who has signed with Ohio. “I’ve got to get used to icing my knees and taking some Advil, but I’d play every day if I could.”
Most teenage athletes would agree, and it’s up to the coaches to rein them in. The demands of other sports don’t lend themselves to rescheduling games in such a short window.
Battlefield girls’ lacrosse Coach Jenny Tran, whose team has four games scheduled next week, said, ideally, one or two games in a week would give her players the best chance to get the most out of themselves.
“Three games alone is a lot,” Tran said, “but four games is terrible, plus, we’ve got AP testing next week. That’s going to take a lot physically and mentally out of our girls.”
Broad Run girls’ soccer Coach Claire Collins said this week was the first time in her nine years leading the Spartans that her team was scheduled to play four games in a week.
“Two games in seven days is okay, but with this there’s no recovery time,” Collins said. “What you have to take into consideration is they’re playing club ball also.”
Club and travel teams, coupled with the compacted schedules, makes restraint on coaches’ and player’s part especially important, said strength and condition coach Alan Stein, who has worked with individual athletes and is on the DeMatha basketball team’s staff. “With start-and-stop sports like soccer, lacrosse, softball, the deceleration, cutting and change in direction, that takes a toll on you.”