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'Fastpitch' explores the history of softball

May 11, 2017

Softball teams from the Big Ten, including Michigan State and the University of Michigan, open their conference tournament in Ann Arbor today.

Next month, thousands of fans will attend the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. In 2020, softball will return to the Olympics after a 12-year-hiatus.

It’s a far cry from softball’s early days when top female and male players often had to move to find a company-sponsored team with a travel budget so they could play in a big tournament.

Erica Westly documents the game’s evolution in her book, “Fastpitch: The Untold History of Softball and the Women Who Made the Game.” Westly just completed a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at U of M.  

Westly joined Doug Tribou on "Morning Edition" on Michigan Radio.

Erica Westly's book

In the interview Westly discusses:

  • How the game of softball got its name.
  • How corporate sponsorship helped grow the sport.
  • The story of legendary pitcher Bertha Ragan.
  • The ongoing debate over whether girls should play baseball or softball.