Chattanooga-(WDEF) Chattanooga has often been referred to as the capital of girls fast-pitch softball in the Eastern United States. We asked several prominent, local softball figures how the Scenic City became such a mecca for the sport.
UTC softball coach Frank Reed thinks girls fast-pitch maybe spawned from the old men’s fast pitch company teams that were prevalent in Chattanooga. Reed says his dad was hired to play fast-pitch for the Dupont Nylons.
"Some of the men’s best fast-pitch players in the world came right out of Chattanooga. DuPont had a team. The Combustion had a team. Key Bakery."
And as those company teams died down, it seems the girls game started to grow.
Said GPS softball coach Susan Crownover,"Well you know, there was just so much summer ball. I mean there has just always been so much summer ball in Chattanooga."
Said ASA Jr Olympic Commissioner for Tennessee Kim Swafford,"And then on into the 80’s is when it really blew up here. We had a national championship here in Chattanooga every year from 1980 to 1989."
And one of those spearheading local girls softball in the 80’s was Jim Frost, who coached the famous Frost Falcons.
Said Swafford,"He was one of the first coaches to take a team to a national championship, and I think he took them to California."
Baylor coach Kelli Smith played for the Frost Falcons.
"Well Jim was just a great coach himself. He knew the game. He had a passion for the game. Then he was able to bring coaches in and work with us. He brought Ernie Parker from California, who is one of the most well reknowned pitching coaches of all time."
Given all that coaching and summer ball, no wonder Chattanooga high school teams are a force in the state tournament.
Said Crownover,"And that’s the difference between us and other places is that Chattanooga teams in every division, division one, division two, triple-A, double-A,single-A, they still keep showing up in the state tournament every year. I think it’s a tribute really to the city of Chattanooga and North Georgia in the way the fields they’ve built and the facilities."
And city officials worked to upgrade Chattanooga’s ball fields, and Reed believes they’resecond to none.
"I’ve been all over the country. Looked at facilities. Gone to big tournaments. And I can step up to somebody and say you need to come to Chattanooga to play. You’re going to get to play on some of the best fields and complexes. I can say that truthfully, and when people get a chance to come, they always want to come back."