BEAVERTON – The COVID-19 infection and death rate continues to wane and with that bit of good news sports are starting to return. Michigan State University has started to bring athletes back to campus and the University of Michigan is also allowing athletes to return voluntarily. High schools can now begin their summer workouts under strict protocols and summer league softball and baseball players are getting back on the field. Great news actually.
One local athlete that has been back on the field for several weeks is Beaverton’s Mady Pahl. Pahl, a softball All State selection as a sophomore has been able to get an earlier start due to the fact she is playing for a summer softball organization, the Firestix, which spends a considerable amount of time playing throughout the Midwest. They were in Findley, Ohio last weekend for a tune-up tournament and will be in North Ridgeville, Ohio this weekend.
Pahl, whose favorite sport is softball and hopes to play in college, made the decision last fall to try to play against a higher level of competition than is available locally. The Firestixs provides that opportunity. Based in Grand Blanc in the Flint area the organization has a track record for success in helping girls reach that goal. Another Beaverton athlete, Faith Howe preceded Pahl in the organization and recommended the program to her.
The loss of the spring season and the ability to visit colleges this summer puts a definite crimp in the plans of many junior athletes. The summer between the junior and senior year of high school is when many athletes whittle down their list of potential colleges. Pahl had planned on making multiple visits this summer. She was a Division 3 First Team All State selection at second base in 2019, her sophomore year, and has been attracting interest from several colleges. The decision to play for the Firestix was fortuitous, they have infrastructure in place to help players navigate the roadblocks of the COVID19 shutdowns.
The Firestix went 5-1 last weekend in Ohio. Mady explained that last weekends contests were not an actual tournament, but more of a round robin designed to give the teams their first live action since last fall. “It was a little bit rough at first,” said Pahl. “It was the first time the entire team had been together.” Even though she hadn’t seen live pitching in months, Pahl had a decent tournament. She played second base and batted in the leadoff spot all weekend. She batted .312 with five hits and scored four times.
With things finally starting to open up in Michigan the Firestix and other local programs like the Mid Michigan Heat will finally be able to compete soon. Several local baseball teams also have plans to get started soon. It won’t be long before we have local teams to talk about again. Great news from my perspective.