Houston Schools is taking initial steps to considering moving softball to the spring.
HHS athletic director Brent Hall said the district is “accessing the need” of the potential switch. He spoke before the school board Thursday night at its monthly meeting and received permission to survey female athletes about their interest in playing softball and volleyball.
By moving softball to the spring, female students would have the opportunity to play both sports. As it stands, with both sports in the fall, students must chose one or the other.
“No one is saying we are switching yet,” Hall said. “We are trying to get our ducks in a row if it comes to that.”
The discussions are the second time Houston has considered the move.
When the Missouri State High School Activities Association made spring softball available in 2013, Houston strongly considered the move. The district ultimately decided to stay put in the fall due to concerns about losing the South Central Association conference, transportation costs to fill a schedule, the availability of quality umpires and losing Hall as head softball coach.
Most of those concerns have since been resolved. The biggest one remaining is losing Hall, who is also the head baseball coach and has said he would stay with that program.
“I’m torn. Selfishly I enjoy coaching softball,” he said. “But ultimately what wins out is what is best for our athletes.
“I’ll do what’s best for our kids. If most of our girl athletes want to play two sports, we’ll do what’s best for them.”
MSHSAA communications director Jason West said there are currently 124 schools registered for postseason spring softball. There is only one class of competition in the playoffs, but Houston would be among the biggest districts. West said Dexter has the largest enrollment with 633 students. Houston would rank 10th in size with an enrollment of 380.
If Houston moved to the spring, the Lady Tigers could potentially be part of District 7 that currently consists of Cabool, Eminence, Koshkonong, Mountain Grove, Summersville, Thayer and Winona.
The SCA could also be restored in the spring as well, Hall said, if Mountain View-Liberty makes the move and Houston does as well. Hall said Liberty is considering the move. It takes five teams for a full conference.
Hall said player participation would ultimately be the underlying reason for Houston moving softball to the spring. Although Hall had 19 players this year – the most in his five-year tenure – there have been some seasons the Lady Tigers had as few as 11 or 12 softball players.
“Right now our numbers are good, but we’re checking the numbers for the future,” Hall said. “What we’re trying to do is make certain we aren’t ambushed by a class that we don’t have enough to put teams together.”
The surveys will be given to all female high school athletes, Hall said, and the parents of middle school athletes. The results will be presented to the school board, which will ultimately decide if Houston softball stays in the fall or moves to the spring.
“There are a lot of logistical things that must be determined,” Hall said.