The Londonderry Women’s Softball League (LWSL), has been going more than strong since 2001 and would like nothing more than to involve still more moms, daughters, granddaughters, co-workers, and neighbors in their games.
“I don’t remember how many teams we started with, but we have had nine to 10 teams over the last decade. Our enrollment is usually between 130 to 150 women each year. We currently have 10 teams and 145 players. All teams play each other twice for a total of 90 regular season games,” said LWSL president Joanna Waring.
Waring, who has been a member of the local league since day one, is one of many who say that the LWSL serves a significant purpose for women in town.
“By playing a sport, any sport, women can get out, push themselves, and be part of a team. Softball is the only team sport in Londonderry for women, and I believe women want and like being part of a team, getting out and getting dirty,” said Waring. “Make-up is not required, no high heels, and no stylish clothes. Many friendships have been made, and I like to think this is an opportunity for our players to do something for themselves. Many of us have followed our kids around from game to game; now it’s our turn.”
The league’s players range in age from 18 to over 60, with the average age being in the upper 40s.
“We have quite a few mother/daughter combos playing together,” said league member Carolyn Brown. “Some have come through Londonderry High School as softball players, and we also have grandfathers keeping books for some teams.”
There are quite a few former Londonderry High softball players keeping the competitive spirit alive by playing in the women’s league. One recent contest included former Lady Lancers Erin Moloney, Abbey Lang, and Leah Hunt. Moloney is now a sub-varsity softball coach and teacher at LHS, Lang just finished an impressive collegiate softball career at Holy Cross, and Hunt just completed her freshman campaign on the Saint Anselm College women’s softball squad.
Of course, there are far more ladies whose playing days are further behind them but who are intent on having some fun, getting some healthy exercise, and being a part of a team effort in the LWSL.
“We are a ‘recreational’ league with a bit of competitiveness. All our players give 110 percent to their teams,” said Waring. “Over our 15 years, our players have been getting better and better, and everyone wants to be the team on the podium at the end of the season as the ‘Winner.’ Finding the balance between true recreation versus competitiveness is a very fine line, and every year we try not to cross it.”
And Waring and her fellow league officials put considerable effort into making sure that enjoyment is the bottom line.
“We continuely stress to our coaches and players that our foremost goal is for everyone to have fun,” she said. “Our rules are designed to keep the league fun and not to encourage any ‘cut-throat’ playing.”
The LWSL doesn’t have tryouts, doesn’t require experience, and doesn’t restrict anyone based on age.
“I get many requests for information on our league. Usually the question surrounds how much experience is needed to participate,” said the president. “I look at our league as an opportunity for women to get out and get dirty. How often can we do that?”
Waring added, “Due to the aging of our league and players, our goal is to encourage Londonderry women who are of an age that their busy lives need a timeout, that want to get out of the house, and do something for themselves.”
Veteran LWSL player Lisa Muse showed just how team and family-oriented some of the league’s squads can be.
“I have been on the same team for 11 years, and I really look forward to spending time with this group of women each summer,” she said. “Our team is so lucky that we have such a great bond. We organize a snack schedule to hang out after each game, and snacks include meatball subs, pizza, tacos, sandwiches, soups, salads. When we first started in this league our team had about 30 kids between us all, so it became a great tradition to hang out with all the kids and husbands while feeding them dinner at the same time.”
As far as the “competitiveness” question is concerned, Muse said. “It’s just the right amount, and we are very encouraging to new players. Nobody should be afraid to play in this league, it’s a great group of women. My sister, Kim Winn, and I have been playing on this team for many, many years. This allows us time to spend together because as life gets hectic, you sometimes just don’t find the time anymore.”
As folks who have been involved in community softball leagues can attest, having a league remain vibrant in its second decade is an accomplishment.
“Many leagues in our area have folded, or have become small leagues. I am proud of our league that after 15 years we are still going strong,” said Waring.