New softball season underway
Diamonds throughout the region are once again alive with the sounds of bats connecting with balls as the 2013 softball season gets underway at various fields. The Bay Roberts minor softball season commenced last week, with 120 young people registered to date, and that number is expected to grow.
The sun is setting over the old ball field in Bay Roberts on May 28 and a familiar scene is playing out below.
Young athletes are lined up across the foul line, a mid-size yellow ball flying between them.
Every couple of seconds, the thud produced by ball hitting leather can be heard. Once in a while, a crack can be heard.
Here, players with the peewee division of Bay Roberts minor softball are learning the nuances of the fastpitch game. Some are just learning, snatching at the ball with their gloves, while others seem like old pros and successfully cradle the ball.
Coach Geoff Seymour walks among the group. Watching the players, he offers instruction to those who need it. Within minutes, the players have corrected, adjusted and are catching the softballs successfully.
On this night, the players are divided into three groups focusing on pitching, fielding ground balls and fly balls. All are essential if you want to be a successful ball player.
Along with Seymour, players receive instruction from notable local softballers Glen Mercer and Chris Hussey. Both have experience at high levels of competition in Newfoundland and Labrador.
It is easy to see the enthusiasm young children in the Bay Roberts and surrounding area have for the game of softball.
So far, the association has some 120 athletes registered, but Seymour said he expects more children to sign up over the next couple of weeks.
“Last year, we had approximately 170 kids registered and we should be in that vicinity when the final registration is done,” he said.
In its sixth season, the Bay Roberts association takes in players from ages five to 20 in the beginners (ages five, six and seven), mite (ages eight, nine and 10), squirt (ages 11 and 12), peewee (ages 13 and 14), bantam (ages 15 and 16) and midget (under-20) divisions. Both male and female players are welcome to come and have a game.
“We are hoping to be able to field some all-female teams in the mite and squirt divisions at the provincial level,” said Seymour.
At this practice, there are between 10 and 12 female players, all chomping at the bit to get into some game action.
Last year, the association entered teams in provincial tournaments at the squirt and peewee boys levels. The association’s peewee players also participated in the 2012 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games co-hosted by Harbour Grace and Carbonear last summer.
Seymour said the focus of this year is to expand to include the mite division, along with squirt and peewee teams in both the male and female divisions.
This focus to enter teams in provincial tournaments will not take away from the house league in each division.
“The priority, however, will be the development of basic skills at the house league level,” said Seymour.
Over the last couple of years, the association has experienced some growth in the number of players taking to the field every year.
Of course, with more players means there becomes a need for more coaches and volunteers.
Ideally, the association would like separate groups for the executive and on the field, but right now, a lot of the people on the executive have been doing both.
Seymour encourages anyone interested to come along.
“It doesn’t matter if you come from a softball background or not any help would be appreciated,” he said. ”Something as simple as supervision on the field would be great, especially with the younger kids.”
For more, contact Geoff Seymour at 786-0812 or email@example.com.
Coach Geoff Seymour (left) watches as athletes Riley Keefe (centre) and Julia Mercer prepare to catch fly balls during practice.
Rebecca Snow (front) was first in line to take ground balls at second base. Also shown are Jessica Morgan and Camryn Smith (back).
Madison Hall (left) and Breanna Butler look on as instructor Chris Hussey (right) shows the correct grip when throwing a pitch.