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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Softball designated a spring sport, SDHSAA decides

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Girls Softball (copy)

Taylor Mcsherry of Rapid city Stevens turns on a pitch during a Sept. 23, 2019 game.

South Dakota will hold its first-ever softball season in the spring of 2023, the SDHSAA Board of Directors decided Wednesday morning.

SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director Joe Auch made the initial recommendation for the spring based on a 14-5 vote among Class AA programs. 

“Those other schools prefer to play in the fall,” Auch said.

Auch said she expects 35-40 teams to participate in the inaugural year, but that "is really a guess.” The tentative start date for practice is March 20, 2023 with the first-ever state champion crowned in June 2023, the weekend before the 2023 state golf tournament.

Softball was sanctioned as an official varsity sport on Nov. 3 after years of back-and-forth between the SDHSAA and several members of South Dakota's softball community. The motion passed 8-1, and South Dakota became the final state in the nation to sanction softball.

The board discussed the possibility of a fall, spring and even summer season at its November meeting, but ultimately decided to seek input from schools before proceeding with a decision.

Auch said that participating schools can either be fully funded in their first year (being solely responsible for all costs associated with having a softball program) or they could enter a five-year transitional period with equipment sharing and other needs, but only if the intention is to be fully-funded in the fifth year of the transitional period.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity for girls to finally participate in softball," Auch said.

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