Monday is a big day for one of the top 2023 players in the softball world, Macy Littler, who is a talented slapper/utility player for Team Pennsylvania, a top travel team in Western PA.
She was honored this week as one of the top 125 players in the Extra Elite Class of 2023 rankings and that made the week special for sure, but the month of August will be unique for another reason: the talented athlete will be taking the field for the first time as an umpire.
That’s right: Macy, who has received her certification as a USA Softball umpire, will start umpiring youth games in the Beaver County FastPitch League (BCFPL)—which we profiled in June— when play starts on Monday, August 3 (the varsity division played this month). It's more likely, however, that, with only a few games that first week, she will get on the field in the second week of August when there are more games on the schedule.
Her father, Bill Littler, who is the Commissioner of the BCFPL, says: “As a dad, I encouraged Macy to apply to be an umpire. Instead of working at the local ice cream shop or a retail store, I thought being an umpire will not only give her some income, but it would help her learn more about the game she wants to play in college.”
Being “in Blue” also complements her playing club ball.
“The schedule also allows her to continue her speed training, strength and agility training, her private softball lessons, and the league only plays during the week which keeps her weekends open for her club practices and tournaments,” the athlete’s father added.
A dedicated softball player, Macy is a speedy slapper with the skills to able to play anywhere in the infield, outfield and behind the plate.
A natural righty, she started to learn left side drag bunting and soft slapping at 9U and at 10U, she started to learn how to power slap. At 11U, she dropped righty completely focusing on bunts, soft slaps, and power slaps from the left side. At 13U, she started to learn how to swing for power on the left side to become a true triple threat.
If there is anything Macy loves more than softball, it might be Strength and Agility Training. She loves to put in the work with pull-ups, push-ups, wall sits, pushing sleds, working with kettle bells, clean and jerks, box jumps (42” is her best) and bench press (135 x 2 reps is her best).
She’s even a standout gymnast, having competed in gymnastics since she was 4-years-old, reaching level 5 before she decided to give up gymnastics to play basketball in the 7th and 8th grade. However, as a freshman at Central Valley (Monaca, Pennsylvania) High Macy decided to return to gymnastics and joined the varsity gymnastics team.
The incoming sophomore is looking forward to wearing the umpire gear but confesses she’s nervous to take the field.
“I’m expecting it to be difficult at first,” Macy admits, “but to get easier with more games. I’m very nervous about making that first close call! I hope the coaches respect me because I’m younger, but I expect them to get frustrated which is fine because I understand.”
At age 15, she can only be a field umpire, not behind the plate, so her father agreed to get certified with Macy.
“We will do games together this year with the hopes of teaching her and getting her ready to go on her own in 2021 (16 is the minimum age behind the plate). That and I’m able to protect her some from those certain parents,” Bill laughs.
Her father believes several aspects of her game will help Macy be a good ump.
“Her softball IQ is one of her strengths playing the game,” he says. “She’s one of those players that happens to be at the right place at the right time, someone with that born instinct. She’s been like that since her days playing 10U softball. And her Team Pennsylvania (her club team) coaches and trainers all rave about her willingness to learn and her ability to understand and apply what they are coaching her. She’s already asking questions about certain plays or calls on the field to better understand the umpire side of things.”
"The other thing that I think will help her be a good umpire is her style of play. She’s a speedy slapper, so she needs to know the rules so she can press them like she does. Getting out of the box as soon as possible on slaps or bunts, trying to press the rules without getting caught. Leaving as soon as possible, maybe too soon, when stealing bases.”
“Watching behaviors on the field, so she can take advantage of them with delayed steals or hitting spots on the field with weaker defenders. She’s also a leadoff batter, so she understands the strike zone well and has a tendency to work pitchers deep into counts. Being a slapper, she’s involved with many bang-bang type plays at first, so it gives her the appreciation of making sure to get the calls right when she’s umping. As a player, she’s always thinking on the field and I think that will translate well as an umpire.”
One other benefit to working as an umpire, dad says, is she can stay connected to softball for decades to come.
“The other thing, we wondered, is with all the time and money we put into softball, what can she take with her after college? I see her being one of those players who give private lessons and maybe coaches locally or at the college level. Umpiring, certainly, can be another option for her to continue her involvement in the sport she loves.”
Here's video of Macy in action this summer: