Tiffany Asher, [email protected]
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — The Rock Springs High School girl’s softball is heading to the 2023 WHSAA State Girls Softball Championship this week up in Gillette, Wyoming. This championship is held May 18, 19 and 20. Rock Springs will play Thunder Basin in their first matchup on May 18 at 4:00 p.m.
Rock Springs Softball coach Annette Ice explained that she coached 26 kids for the Varsity team this year and will be taking 14 to state. 9 girls will be able to play, but they will be able to bat 10 players.
Ice explained that the season has gone really well for them. “The season has been not bad. We’ve won several games and lost a few we should have won. We have improved every day. The struggle has been our weather. We haven’t been able to be outside since around April 15 and be on the field. We’re starting to build up and get some steam.”
Ice is confident that her team will play well during state. “We play exactly the same team we’ve started the last few years. And every year we’ve played them better. So I think we have a great shot, we can win it. We just got to get the first two and get into a position where we can make it to the other side of the bracket,” Ice said.
Softball is a newer sport to the Wyoming High School Activities Association division, starting in 2021. According to Ice, “It’s going fabulous. We’re actually excepting two more new teams to come in during the next two years. We’re hoping we’ll see Sheridan and Riverton. It’s only our third year in existence in the State of Wyoming, so we’re just waiting for a few more teams. We have 6 teams on our side (west) and 7 teams on the other side (east) of the state. There are 13 teams so we’re just hoping to build on that.” Ice explained since 2010 they have been fighting to have softball become a high school sport.
Ice’s philosophy is simple. “I expect two things. I expect my girls to work 100% of the time. I expect their commitment to be the same as my commitment. Show up, work until the whistle blows, and then work a little harder, give a little more. To be a student of your craft. That’s what these girls are doing, getting better and knowing we can improve every day. I want the girls to not be afraid to make mistakes, but work hard where they don’t make mistakes.”
Ice explained that during the season, she trains her girls for two to two and a half hours a day for five days a week. Once games start, they practice Monday through Thursday and play games Friday and Saturday. A typical softball season is from March to the end of May. “Many girls will play summer ball for their travel programs and they will play clear through until October. Then we will do winter workouts where we will go into the weight room and work on agility, speed, and strength.” Because of the weather, the girls practiced in the gym until the middle of April. Most girls on the team are also track, volleyball, and swim.
Ice is originally from Jackson Hole, but has been in Rock Springs for 32 years and is a Wyoming native. She has been playing softball since she was young and played softball as a young adult. What sparked her the most to be a coach was that she has two daughters who have played softball their whole lives and really wanted to play high school softball. “It just didn’t exist for them.” Her oldest daughter helps coach with her now. “It’s just a sport we love, a sport that just gets under your skin. It’s just part of our lives. We watch baseball and softball on TV. It’s just something I love to play and watch. I started coaching for my kids and when this came up, I just didn’t want there to be an opportunity for Rock Springs to have a team and there not be a qualified coach. So we all just started the process and I applied for the job and was lucky enough to be offered it.” Both her daughters still play adult league softball. Ice has coached gymnastics for 15 years, along with volleyball, basketball, and other sports. “I just wanted to make sure that Rock Springs had a chance for their program at the high school to thrive,” she mentioned.
“We have had tremendous support from the community of Rock Springs. Our stands have always been full at our home games. Western Wyoming Beverages has also been amazing to us. They took our pictures, made banners, and made sure our kids had the support that they needed around town and home games. Thank you to them and the amazing group of parents that made sure these girls were supported 110% of the time. It’s just really awesome,” Ice finished.