Going, going, gone?
The number of Mississippi schools fielding slow-pitch softball teams continues to dwindle to the point that the future of slow-pitch as a Mississippi High School Activities Association sport is in doubt.
MHSAA associate director for athletics Ricky Neaves said about 20 schools dropped the sport this year, reducing the number fielding teams to 89. That's just a little more than one-third of the member schools.
Slow-pitch has been reduced to two classes, with 1A, 2A and 3A schools in Class I and 4A, 5A and 6A schools in Class II. Three years ago, there were five classes.
“We will reassess this at the end of the slow-pitch season as we do every season,” Neaves said. “If the numbers continue to dwindle as they have, it might not be feasible for the '20-’21 season.”
Winona is one of the schools that continues to field a slow-pitch team and athletic director Charlie Parkerson said the school will do so as long as the sport is offered by the MHSAA.
Winona will compete in Class I, Region 4 with East Webster, Eupora, Hamilton and Hatley. Winona and Hatley are 3A schools, East Webster and Eupora 2A, and Hamilton 1A.
Most of the schools that dropped slow-pitch have replaced it with volleyball as a fall sport for girls. Volleyball will increase from three to four classes this year.
Neaves pointed out that a reason for schools dropping slow-pitch and replacing it with volleyball is because there is no slow-pitch at colleges or junior colleges. “There is no next level and no scholarships offered,” he said.