UFH softball teams take a swing at USSA titles after grand season
Following an incredible season in the ECSA provincial softball league the University of Fort Hare go into this year’s USSA tournament in scintillating form.
The University Sport South Africa competition takes place in Pretoria next week and UFH will be a force to be reckoned with after the women’s team won the regional league and the men came second in their division.
It is the second successive year that the ladies have been crowned champions and their campaign in Pretoria presents the ideal opportunity for more silverware.
“We are in great form; our tails are up. We want to come back with brass this year,” said Fort Hare coach Nolwazi Mabindisa.
Victory for the teams would be even sweeter given that they had not played at the USSAs since the outbreak of the pandemic.
They were scheduled to appear at last year’s tournament, but this was cancelled when not enough sides were able to attend.
For many players, Mabindisa said, the event would carry extra meaning since it would be their first USSAs despite their university careers now coming to an end.
“They’re looking forward to making a big impact.”
The team has been in camp for two weeks but, in reality, their preparation started five months ago.
Mabindisa said they had been working on playing as a unit and building confidence.
“We are making sure that they understand the team dynamic and that each person has a part to play.”
Fort Hare’s strength in softball can be traced back to the former Transkei region, where it remains a hugely popular sport at high-school level. Students from places like Bizana bring a passion to the game that inspires others to succeed on the field.
UFH often come up against Walter Sisulu University, as they are the only two tertiary institutions in the province that offer the sport.
The Alice-based university is one of six institutions competing in Pretoria and Mabindisa was confident her charges could deliver on the big stage.
The women’s team is noted for players like “big-hitter” Zizipho Lingela and pitcher Awanele Nompetsheni, both of whom were selected for the national USSA side last year.
In the men’s side, lead pitcher Mlamli Mofana has enjoyed an outstanding season that has earned him a spot in the provincial outfit.
Mabindisa expected reigning champions Vaal University of Technology and perennial favourites Varsity College to bring their A-game to the tournament, but both men and women were ready for the challenge.
Fort Hare takes on hosts Tshwane University of Technology in their opener on Monday.