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.

Provin­cial play

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.

Vol­un­teers wanted

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 ge­of­frey­sey­mour@es­

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).

Pho­tos by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Madi­son Hall (left) and Bre­anna But­ler look on as in­struc­tor Chris Hussey (right) shows the cor­rect grip when throw­ing a pitch.

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