Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Fans of Island softball pay it forward and spring for three days of training and a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

Juliet Morse fields a ground ball during a fielding and throwing exercise. — Photo by Michael Cummo

In the peak summer months on Martha’s Vineyard, few things are free. Learning the finer points of softball is. Islanders Tim Goodman from Vineyard Haven and Laurie Turney from West Tisbury have provided a no-strings-attached softball clinic free of charge for girls ages 6-16. The two Islanders helped launch the Vineyard Dynamite Softball Clinic, a three-day clinic held at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. More than two dozen girls participated this week, and the number has risen each year.

The clinic is run by volunteers who include Samantha Burns, commissioner of the Martha’s Vineyard women’s slow-pitch league. Ms. Burns has volunteered for three straight years, and looks forward to next year.

“I coach softball at the high school, and we need a feeder program,” she said. “This year was pretty tough. I love volunteering with the little guys because we love them to be interested in softball and to play in the future. We are trying to reignite interest.”

The clinic focuses on the basic fundamentals of the game, including fielding, pitching, throwing, and catching. Many Islanders have no experience with softball, and some walk on to the high school team having to learn the game from scratch. Dynamite Softball aims to build from the ground up, giving ladies a solid foundation in which they get to learn the game before playing competitively. One of the more popular drills uses wooden boards shaped as gloves to reinforce the idea to use both hands while fielding; the wooden gloves cannot be bent or squeezed, and need two hands to use.

Following the three-day clinic, Mr. Goodman treated volunteers and participants to a Saturday-afternoon Red Sox game. He rented a bus that drove them directly from the ferry to Fenway Park, and catered the entire day. Plus, the Sox beat the Rays 11-7.

“This clinic is really beneficial for the high school kids down the road,” Samantha Burns said. “These girls deserve every chance to get an athletic college scholarship like the boys.”

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