Madison Night Mares are the new fastpitch softball team at Warner Park. – Isthmus

The fastpitch softball team of Madison’s dreams has arrived. The Night Mares, Madison’s first collegiate summer softball team, plays its opening game against the La Crosse Steam on Sunday, June 16, at 6:05 p.m. at Warner Park. 

The Night Mares joins a growing list of women’s sports in Madison, including professional soccer and volleyball teams. The team belongs to the new Northwoods Softball League, a first-of-its-kind summer collegiate fastpitch league designed to attract top college athletes and select high school graduates. Athletes apply online and are provided housing with host families for the season. Players are unpaid but use the season to develop their skills and prepare for later careers in professional leagues. 

Originally from Verona, Night Mares catcher Hilary Blomberg just finished up her first year playing softball for the UW Badgers. She found out about the summer league on social media, and her coaches encouraged her to pursue the opportunity. “I’m excited to meet all these girls and to play for a community that really wants us to be there,” Blomberg says. “It’ll be a whole new experience.” She also notes that she can’t wait to spend the summer playing with her sister Addie, who is an outfielder on the team. 

Blomberg says she’s thrilled to see more fans supporting women’s sports in the area. “I think it’s important to have [women’s sports] everywhere, but especially in Madison,” Blomberg says. “When I was growing up, I never had anything to look up to. I grew up watching baseball — MLB. Having a local team for softball means all these girls can get interested in the sport and have people to look up to and watch and learn from. Showing that there are opportunities for girls out there gives them a goal to work towards.”

There has already been some turnover on the Night Mares, after the original head coach, Raquel Savoy, resigned. The team announced Aaron Moore as the new coach on May 17. Moore previously served as assistant coach at Trinity Christian College and head coach at Roosevelt University and Morton College. Before coaching college athletes, Moore worked as the general manager of the Chicago Bandits, a National Pro Fastpitch team. 

The team is still looking to fill a few more spots on the roster and hire another coach. Despite coming to the role so recently, Moore feels confident about the summer. “We’re all coming together just a few days before the season,” Moore says, explaining that practice begins on June 10, less than a week before the first game. “We’re hoping those practices are an opportunity for those players and coaches to get to know one another and get ready to dive right into the season.” 

Audience participation is also key. Fans submitted team name ideas and voted on their favorites earlier this year. The winning name, Madison Night Mares, beat out the other final-four contenders: Swamp Angels, Thunder Chickens and Lake Muensters. Fans later voted on a name for the team mascot, a (real) miniature horse, and settled on Midnight. 

Through those voting campaigns, balloon-and-confetti-filled announcements, and gameday giveaways, the Madison Night Mares promises plenty of family-friendly fun for fans this summer. And coach Moore plans to bring that spirit of fun to the field. “I want to create an environment where the players really love being there, but we also want an environment where the fans love watching us play. If the fans can see that we’re having a good time, they’ll keep coming out and supporting the team.” 

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