Softball moves to summertime

Special to the Herald Times

MEEKER I Previous softball families, coaches and other interested members of the community met a few weeks ago and discussed the current offerings for our girls in youth softball and weighed the past overall experience with our families’ needs and desires.

The main goals were providing a fun, positive experience, increasing fundamental skills, playing in an environment that best teaches the game, experiencing softball at an appropriate competitive level, and maintaining interest from year to year to build into and support a high school program.   

The current opportunities for youth softball are tee ball and coach pitch in the summer with the Rec. Center for 8-years and under, and participation with the Colorado River Valley little league organization out of Rifle for ages 10U, 12U, and 14U in the spring. Meeker has fielded teams in this league for the last six years.

During this time we have met increasingly limited availability of fields for practices due to little league baseball, little league softball, and high school baseball all happening at the same time with limited hours of light in the evenings to hold practices. Rain and snow have consistently caused cancellations of games and practices with families often having to travel to game sites to be told so. There are not enough teams within CRV to fill the 16 game season so CRV combines with other little league organizations out of Grand Junction, Glenwood, and Three Rivers to get those games. In this, we have experienced year after year of poor communication between the leagues regarding game changes and forfeits and inconsistent rules being upheld at hosting leagues’ locations. Due to the distances we have to travel for these games, we often get scheduled to play double headers, most often in the cold, that last five hours. As a result, we have found long frustrating seasons with lots of travel as most of our “home” games are also played in Rifle, loss of interest in the game, and limited skill development.

After discussing all of this and looking at other options, we decided that we would better meet the needs and desires of families in our community by scheduling a four to six week season in the summer.  We can enter three or four tournaments that guarantee three to five games each and we can schedule extra games if needed with teams from surrounding towns that are doing the same thing. Costs for participating will be similar to the little league registration fee and our recreation center has fully supported this change and is committed to help offset these fees by a certain amount for each player.

In doing this, we will get as full a season as we would in the little league with the added bonus of stable practice times and available fields, greatly improved weather conditions, control over our game schedules, consistent rules and game play in tournaments that operate under longstanding softball organizations (ASA, USSSA, Triple Crown, etc– these tournaments all offer multiple divisions of competition in which you can enter your teams to match their level of play), overall less travel, and similar fees and costs as the little league.

There will be no tryouts for these teams. This opportunity will be available to all girls who wish to participate. We have committed as parents and volunteers to organize as many teams as we need to involve all interested girls.  We welcome and encourage any parent or person with interest in coaching a team or helping to coach a team to volunteer.  There is always room for more coaching help.

Participation in the CRV little league is still available for anyone wishing to do so. There will just not be a team out of Meeker participating so you would be placed on one of the Rifle teams for the season. If this is a better option for your family, it is absolutely appropriate and you are certainly still welcome and encouraged to participate in the summer with Meeker teams as well.

Youth softball teams will be offered at the 10U, 12U, and 14U age groups this year in the summer.

Signups will be held in the spring to allow time to register for tournaments and set up game schedules.  Announcements will be sent home from school, placed in the paper, and found in the spring line up of the recreation center. Contact Meeker Youth Softball Coordinator Briana Williams with any interest in coaching or any further questions. 719-342-2169.                

Fastpitch pitching sessions for new and returning players will begin just after the middle school basketball season ends to prepare for the summer seasons. Information for this will be published soon.