If you were to think of the Yakima Valley’s high school fastpitch prognostication in weather-report terms, you’d probably want to use, say, an April forecast for the Olympic Peninsula. That is, it’s either going to be overcast and a bit dismal or just downright unpredictable.

In a sport that relies on excellence at one position – pitcher – more than perhaps any single responsibility in any other team sport, this area’s fastpitch teams have now gone through three straight years in which graduation has taken the best arms in the Valley. Gone are Zillah’s SCAC West MVP, Samantha Robillard, Cle Elum’s 1-2 pitching punch of Laura Potts and Virginia Soderstrom, CWAC stars like Ashley Van Tress and Gabby Meza,

That can be both good and not-so-good. For fans hoping their teams are in for a long postseason run full of state championship dreams, well, those might be pipe dreams. On the other hand, the shortage of high-caliber arms levels the playing field significantly, which should make for some wide-open title races in virtually every league in every classification, the day-in, day-out competition should prepare the survivors well for the playoffs.

The Valley’s pitching cupboards aren’t exactly bare, but only a very few teams – among them perennial CWAC powers Selah and Ellensburg – enjoy the luxury of having more than one or two dependable hurlers. There are a few standout pitchers who will have to shoulder the bulk of the load for their programs, like Prosser’s Makayla Morrow and West Valley’s Halley Ringer, but there’s a definite shortage of pitchers who have honed their mound skills on club teams and in summer leagues.

Then again, for the average fan maybe this is a good thing. Let the coaches worry about keeping opponents’ run totals under double digits. Fans love hitting and run-scoring, and there should be plenty of that this spring on softball diamonds around the Valley.