This year was our (Bridget Cameron and Jana McCaskill) first experience of umpiring indoor softball, at the International Indoor Softball Tournament held in Schiedam, Netherlands. The Indoor Cup always draws high-level teams, and the field this year included the European Champion Netherlands Under-22 National Team, most of the best Dutch club teams, six Under-18 Gold All-Star teams from the United State, Czech club team Joudrs Prague, and the Great Britain Select team.
We were joined by college and high school USA umpires, Tom Fitzsimmons, Tatem Stoelting, Susan Eads, Robert Allen, Joel Petrie, Sonny Pompilii and fellow ESF umpires Sara Dielen, Patrick Reus, Garret-Jan Hoeven, Bob Gieskens and Mariana Prins. It was an experienced and friendly crew, and we were very fortunate to have Umpires In Chief, Carolien Stadhouders and Bert Loggen.
The tournament itself was played across three diamonds in two sports halls within 500 metres of each other. The diamonds are slightly different due to space requirements, having low ceilings and bleachers in right and right centre field. This could change a normal home run into a one base hit, or an out if it hit the roof. There were a lot of spectators, many of them relatives of players on the American teams, which lead to a vibrant atmosphere throughout the tournament.
Bridget Cameron ad Jana McCaskill
Softball at the Indoor Cup in Schiedam has many rules to assist in speeding up the game (including starting with a 1-1 count), but the central battle between pitchers and batters is the same, and the level of pitching across the tournament was high. While the players acknowledge that the modified version of the games were quick, there was also an expectation and requirement of your best umpiring performance for each game. In addition, positioning to make each call was extremely important. As an outfield hit could bounce off the back wall for a force out at second, you had to have your head in the game at all times and ensure that the four essential elements of the play were kept in front of you.
During some of the off diamond time, we were able to watch other umpires and talk with our overseas counter-parts about the strategy of the game. It was a good opportunity to talk about the theories behind umpiring and making the right call. Overall, it was an honour to be invited to umpire at Schiedam, and the tournament was extremely well run and lots of fun to officiate.
Written by Bridget Cameron and Jana McCaskill