Interest high for bringing professional softball to York
After the York White Roses dissolved in 1969, the York Revolution brought professional baseball back to York in 2007.
If all goes well, the Revs may not be done bringing professional sports to the area.
Many eyes were focused on Santander Stadium on Thursday night as the National Pro Fastpitch made its debut in York for a contest between the Pennsylvania Rebellion and the USSSA Pride.
The Rebellion, who hail from the Pittsburgh suburb of Washington, lost to the Pride in 12 innings, 4-3.
If the initial positive reactions to the contest hold, there's a sense that something could happen down the road.
"The day has gone very good so far," said Rebellion general manager Steve Zavacky. "We've worked with (Revolution President) Eric (Menzer) for quite a few months putting this together. We came down here (Wednesday) and put on a clinic and their hospitality has been fantastic."
The primary reason behind the endeavor was to gauge how much support there would be locally for a dedicated club — either in York, in Lancaster, or one shared between the rival cities. So a litmus test of sorts is being carried out this weekend with two additional games scheduled to be played at Clipper Stadium in Lancaster.
Both the Barnstormers and Revolution have shown interest in bringing a local club to the area. And now the Atlantic League rivals have joined forces to kind of test the waters.
So far, so good according to Menzer.
"I'm thrilled with the sales we've had for this game," said Menzer, who was very pleased with the announced attendance of 3,265. "It's been very positive."
The interest in expanding outward from baseball into softball isn't that big of a stretch for the club. They already sponsor the Lady Revs youth softball program that is a part of the York Young Revolution.
With the Susquehanna Valley being somewhat of a hotbed for the sport, the passion to support a team certainly didn't appear to be lacking. Many youth teams were in attendance wearing their softball jerseys at Thursday night's game.
"It's great to see all the girls hustling to get autographs from the players," said Menzer, who noted the team sold over 1,000 tickets to local youth area softball programs.
The Central York softball team was also honored, with players getting to take the field with the Rebellion before the contest. Some of the Pride players took batting practice earlier in the day at Central's field where many of those that attended the contest partook in a mind-blowing exhibition of hitting.
"It would be really cool to have some (players) in this area to look up to," said Panther catcher Briannah Dobson. "And they've been where we are. And having a team (locally) I think would be really awesome."
Both Dobson and teammate Rachel Butler were looking forward to Thursday's game. They took in the action in a private box that was arranged by their coach, Shane Walker.
While Butler couldn't catch a glimpse of the practice with the Pride players Thursday morning, Dobson was. And she left feeling very impressed with what she saw from a team that features 23 All-Americans.
"They hit so many home runs," Dobson said. "Just watching those girls hit, I thought they were going to just thump (the Rebellion). But (the Rebellion) is hanging there."
Butler, who already attends many of the Revolution's regular season games, would definitely be interested in rooting for a team if one came around locally.
"It would be nice to see some softball," she said. "You usually can't see it on TV so it would be cool to see it professionally."
That is something with which Menzer agrees whole-heartedly. And, if things pan out well, he may be on his to bringing another professional sport to York or the York-area.
"One interesting thought that we've had is what if there was a Susquehanna Valley team that played half of its home games in York and half of its home games in Lancaster," he said. "That's one of the possibilities that we're entertaining if we want to buy a franchise and turn it into a permanent thing."
The Rebellion scored its runs in the first and fifth innings en route to the triumph.
A leadoff single with a two-base error off the bat of Yuri Masuyama set the home team up in the first. With one outs, Cheyenne Cordes drove Masuyama in with a sacrifice fly.
Pinch-hitter Mandy Ogle doubled the lead in the fifth with a home run to left center.
The Pride tied up the score with a pair of runs in the sixth inning. Brigette Del Ponte and Kelsey Kretschman both hit solo homers in the frame that evened the score up at 2-2.
After each team traded runs in the 11th inning, the Pride regained the lead, 4-3, in the top of the 12th. Former All-American at Texas and Olympian Cat Osterman closed out the game with a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning to end the contest.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com