LETHBRIDGE, NL — For Zach Humby of Lethbridge, who has played softball all his life, it took a close call on the ball field this year to make a change to the way he plays — he now sports a protective mask when taking to the mound.
“Anything can happen when you least expect it,” Humby told the Packet.
Humby has played competitively — mainly as a pitcher — for the past 10 years or so, including with the Stray Katz team and the Clarenville Men’s League.
He says pitcher is probably the most vulnerable position on the field.
“With the release and the pitch, you’ve got less time to react,” he says.
But, he adds, players anywhere on the infield also have a chance of an injury.
“There’s no trouble for a ball to take a bad hop and with the way the balls and bats are these days, they just keep getting better and better.”
He says any infielder, batter or baserunner could benefit from the added protection.
Humby says it took a close call for him to make the change.
At the provincial tournament in Shoal Harbour this past summer, he got hit badly with a line drive.
“Luckily, I had just enough time to get the glove up and it glanced off my glove and struck me in the eye,” remembers Humby. “It completely broke my glasses and left me with a pretty good shiner.”
He was able to continue in the game but admits it could’ve been much worse — it was the closest call he’s ever had playing softball.
“I never pitched another inning without the mask.”
While changes with visibility took a little getting used to, he says he would sacrifice the comfort for the peace of mind any day.
Humby says he could see many leagues bringing in masks for pitchers or infielders, or perhaps more players would use common sense and elect to wear one.
“The game is evolving. Bats are getting better. Balls are getting harder. I think the players should take into their own mind to try and equip themselves a little better for the game on the field.”