By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Girls from a number of different Minneapolis softball programs have gathered at Washburn High School for 612 Softball. It is defined by area code, and more.

“The hierarchy of kind of softball, there’s your park-and-rec program, community travel and club. We’re kind of right in the middle,” said Mike Vanderscheuren, president of 612 Softball. “So we offer a more competitive experience than park and rec, but not the price tag of club sports.”

Many of the good teams and good players in the suburbs play on club teams year round, and that’s pricey, but you need repetition.

“You remember like Cal Ripken talking about how he hit 500 baseball off a tee every day, right? And that kind of stuff. This is no different,” said Greg Berg, 612 Softball co-founder. “Giving the girls the opportunity to pick up a softball during the winter.”

But here they can get that in the winter months, and through it they can compete, but you have to have access and the opportunity to compete.

“612 has made me grow so much as a softball player. It’s gotten me to college ball and it’s gotten me to just grow my skills, even from fundamentals to being very fine-tuned,” said Katie McCabe, 612 Softball co-founder.

(credit: CBS)

Paving the way to pave for it is a grant from the Minnesota Twins Community Fund to help hire coaches.

“We’re award a grant to help us recruit high-school and college-age coaches, which is a huge deal,” Vanderscheuren said. “The girls really respond to those college-level instructors.”

Those instructors are college softball players, in this case from Macalester College. And they are here to relate and emphasize what it takes to play the game the right way.

“I want to give them more knowledge about the game, so as they get the basics, they can continue on to more and more things because, you really need the basics to do everything,” said Sophie Migaez, Macalester College softball player and 612 Softball coach.

Because sometimes all you need is a chance to compete and a place to play.

“Finding a place to practice in Minneapolis, especially with the weather, is pretty tough,” McCabe said. “612 has really helped me find gym space for my girls, as well as just having fun and not being outside in the cold.”

Mike Max