SDHSAA finalizing plans to begin girls’ softball in 2022-23

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PIERRE — The South Dakota High School Activities Association is finalizing plans for girls’ high school softball to begin playing as a sport during the 2023 school year.

The SDHSAA sanctioned girls’ softball as a sport at its Nov. 3 meeting.

South Dakota is the last state in the nation to sanction softball.

Dr. Dan Swartos, the executive director of the SDHSAA, said they have been working with schools trying to work out all the the details, such as: whether softball would be played in the fall or the spring, how many games will be played, and what venues would the games be played at.

“We have already worked out the details for Class B and Class A. Their games will be played in the spring,” said Swartos.

Swartos said Class A and Class B want to play approximately 26 games, but where the games are to be played is still a work in progress.

“Right now we are still looking into finding venues, where the games will be played at. We hope to have that wrapped up soon,” he said.

Santos said they are also still trying to figure out whether Class AA will play in the spring or the fall.

 “The two Rapid City Schools, the four Sioux Falls Publics, O’Gorman, Brandon Valley, and Harrisburg would prefer to play in the fall. There are six schools that would prefer to play in the spring, and there are two schools that have indicated no preference,” Santos said.

Santos said the details would be finalized and voted on at the SDHSAA’s January board of directors meeting.

Santos added that if no agreement can be reached on what season to play girls’ softball, the SDHSAA board would have to make that decision for them.

Santos also said that just because a sport is sanctioned by the SDHSAA, a school doesn’t have to participate in that sport.

“A school doesn’t have to participate in any sport just because we sanction it. That’s up to the school to decide whether they want to participate or not,” Swartos said.

Stephanie Ornelas, the Spearfish High School activities director, said she recommended that the girls’ softball season be played in the spring.

“I recommended spring for the simple fact there is so many fall sports,” she said.

Spearfish High School’s fall softball team just completed its second season as a club sport.

Six of the girls were from Spearfish, and four girls’ co-opted from Belle Fourche.

Ornelas said she is in charge of a committee of six people, who will be doing work/research on some of the key questions the school board would want to have answered on what all is entailed in starting up of a new program.

The committee is made up of Ornelas, school board reps, a representative from Black Hills State University, a representative from the city, the softball coach, and a member from the baseball/softball board.

Committee members declined to be named individually, they just wanted to be known by whom they are representing.

Todd Palmer, the Sturgis Brown High School Activities Director, said the school has not had any discussions about whether to field a sanctioned girls’ softball team for the 2022-23 school year.

“We have not made a decision one way or another at this time. I have not even visited with my board about it, so I wouldn’t be able to give you any direction about it one way or another,” Palmer said.

Palmer said Sturgis Brown was one of the six schools that voted to hold the girls’ softball season in the spring.

Palmer added that the official determination of when the girls’ softball season will be played is going to take place in January.

That is when the SDHSAA will hold its monthly meeting.

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