The opening pitch has been thrown for South Cariboo Minor Softball’s 2022 season.
Dozens of players came out two weeks ago for the first practices of the year. Eleven teams signed up with 120 players, up from 100 last year, said Softball president Pat Findlay. The vast majority of the youth are in the U7 and U9 groups, although there are also U11, U13 and U15 age groups.
Each age group will be playing twice a week from Monday to Thursday.
“We’re developing young new ballplayers and it’s shaping up really good,” said Findlay, who grew up playing ball in 100 Mile House.
“Our field allocation is just maxed out so if we keep on growing we’ll be looking to somehow get another ball field constructed in our town which is a great problem to have.”
Besides new players, there are also new coaches hitting the ballfield this year.
Donex Dugouts coach Ashley Keeping has joined the coaching roster for the first time, taking on a U9 team, which includes both her son and her nephew.
“I’ve never coached baseball before so it’s all sort of new to me. YouTube has been my friend,” Keeping said. “The softball association also gave me a manual to work with basic drills that I’m trying to go by.”
The Dugouts still need to learn how to properly run the bases and to make sure they’re always paying attention to the ball, she said. During their second practice, one of her players took a ball to the nose.
Once the teams have had a few weeks of practice and skill development, Findlay said they will start playing each other. Minor softball’s season ends in the last week of June, which will give them an eight-week season.
A few of the rep teams will keep practicing until July when they go to Merritt for the BC provincials, Findlay said, adding he intends to reach out to minor softball leagues in Clearwater and Barriere to organize some weekend games to help the teams prepare.
“I look forward to when the games start and kids can get a bit more competitive and have fun with it,” Keeping said. “I want the kids to learn good sportsmanship and come away with a few more skills and improvement in their games.”