Buffalo’s starting pitcher Taylin Hatch stretches forward before releasing her pitch

Buffalo’s starting pitcher Taylin Hatch stretches forward before releasing her pitch during the second inning against Gillette on Wednesday. The coaches realized shortly into the game that they the circle was painted for the older girls pitching mound, making Hatch stretch outside of the circle on each release.

Early in the season, when it wasn’t even clear there would be a fastpitch softball season, the parents of the Buffalo Pride 14 and under team decided the best course of action would be to play games close to home and avoid larger tournaments. Instead, the team plays a doubleheader or round robin each week. 

That shortened season hasn’t prevented the girls from making big strides, according to coach Kristin Hatch. 

“We have early morning hitting practice Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and most of them come to those practices,” she said. “And then we have early morning pitcher-catcher practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a lot of them show up for those practices, and that is in addition to team practices. They all have a fire to be better for themselves and their team.”

Hatch said that about half the team played together last year; the other half of the team is composed of girls who have never played softball. And by 14U standards, the team is young – many of the players are young enough that they could play in the 12U league. 

“It’s always better to play up,” Hatch said, “because that’s what makes you better.” 

Naveah Bell had a good outing against Gillette at home June 24 with two doubles. Taylin Hatch pitched well, Hatch said. The Pride dropped the game 9-7.

“Ryleigh Holmes has been hitting really well,” Hatch said. “McKenna Fowler is coming along as a catcher. Isobell Kerkaert plays a tough first base and is learning to pitch; she’s done really well stepping into that position.

“They all get along really well. You don’t always get to have the opportunity to have a team that gets along really well. They can push each other to be better and still be best friends.”

The Pride was in Gillette on July 1 for a doubleheader and will be home on July 7. 

That would typically be the end of the season, but Hatch said, “Since it was an abbreviated season, we may just keep scheduling games for fun.” 

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