Northwest Thunder Softball gears up for new season


Northwest Thunder Softball recently started practice for its 14U team as they gear up for their upcoming season. 

Since the travel team is new, coach Brandon Gibbons is excited to see what all of the players bring to the table. 

“I grew up in little league, but I think it’s kind of a dying group,” Gibbons said. “It’s good for the people because travel ball has a whole ‘nother level of commitment as far as the kids and families financially and all that.”

He noted travel ball teams play year-round while little league only plays for part of the year, so he enjoys being able to coach regularly. Gibbons said he’s coached the travel team for the past three years. 

Some changes were made to Northwest Thunder’s structure, which allowed the organization to create the 14U team, Gibbons said. 

“I’m excited,” he said. “We’ve been holding tryouts and open practices for the last couple weeks and had some girls come to our organization that I’m excited about. I think we’re going to be a lot better this season. Granted, we’re stepping up an age level, so there’ll be that learning curve.”

With their team, he said the pitcher’s mound is moved back three feet, which adds an extra challenge. The “no-run” rule of younger teams is also absent, which would limit the amount of home runs a team can score. 

“When the mound moves back three feet for pitchers, three feet doesn’t sound like a lot, but the ball loses velocity every inch,” Gibbons said. “So you got to throw that ball just as hard at three more feet, so there’s that part.”

The girls on the team are 14 years old or younger, so “every time you age up, (the) skill level is more and girls throw harder,” he said. As for the no-run rule, he said it gives more girls a chance to bat. 

From the practices he’s observed so far, Gibbons noted the players’ speed, which is “a huge plus” for the team. 

“I’m excited for these girls. (At) every practice they get a little bit better, and by the end of the season, we should be pretty good,” he said. 

The team is still looking for a few more players, including a pitcher, from Battle Ground to round out the roster. Gibbons said the athletes need to be coachable and need to to fall in line when they’re asked, no matter how talented they are.

“At this age, girls are figuring out if this is something they’re going to want to continue, or it’s just they’re kind of done, so you kind of look for ‘do they want to be out here? Do they want to get better?’” he said. 

He mentioned it’s hard to find pitchers because many players stick to the positions they’re in and aren’t always interested in other roles. Despite that, Gibbons said he sees potential in all of the players so far. 

The team will start playing double-header games on Sept. 10 and will then play in tournaments during the winter months, Gibbons said. 

For more information on the team, go online to nwthunderfast


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