2012-04-12 / News

Now’s the time for girls to sign up for softball

Organizers would like to see an increase from the 27 that signed up last year
BY MARGO SULLIVAN

It’s time to sign up for softball, according to Jill Goldstein, program supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department. The town is once again offering Saturday morning softball for girls in first through seventh grades.

Goldstein is also looking for parents to help with coaching, she said. Jamestowner Jeff Bush is coming back as head coach, and ideally, she’d like to line up some assistants who played high school or college ball.

Goldstein, who also helps on Saturday mornings, played softball informally, but she’d appreciate a helping hand from some parents who are experts on how to field, hit and catch.

Bush grew up on the island and played Little League and Babe Ruth baseball. He went on to play at North Kingstown High School and Rhode Island College. He said he benefitted from the efforts of volunteers, and now that he has the opportunity he wants to give back and help the next generation. “I would always do it,” he said.

Bush’s two daughters, 11 and 8, are going out for softball this summer. He would urge children who aren’t sure if they will like softball to sign up anyway and try it out.

According to Bush, Jamestowners tend to sign up late for rec programs so it’s hard to predict how many children will play. The softball league has lost some players due to competition from other sports. Bush admitted that soccer is a big draw right now because youngsters can play all year round, instead of just in the fall, when soccer is traditionally played.

Some of the parents told Bush that their girls wouldn’t come back to play softball this summer because soccer is also meeting on Saturday mornings.

“It’s such a monopolistic sport,” he said. Bush added that soccer organizers have convinced a lot of the public that children need to play soccer continuously to stay competitive. Bush disagrees and feels children – especially younger ones – should play several different sports and develop into “wellrounded athletes.” He suggested sticking with the traditional lineup of basketball in winter, soccer and football in the fall, and baseball or softball in the summer.

The program is also losing some of last year’s players to baseball this summer, several parents said. Their brothers are playing Little League, and the girls wanted to play on the same team.

That switch won’t hurt the girls in the long run, Bush said. They will learn how to hit the ball and pick up the other skills, so they can likely fit right into a high school softball team with no trouble if they want to continue on a team.

Girls, of course, can always try out for boys’ baseball teams, he said. North Kingstown has boys’ baseball and girls’ fast-pitch softball.

The softball, Bush said, is easier to hit than a baseball, but it’s the same concept. “You try to hit the ball and run around the bases,” he said.

He added that the two sports are equally competitive at the high school and college level, and for this age group, the differences in the baseball and softball rules amount to subtleties.

“The nuances are later,” he said.

Meanwhile, he would like to see about 30 girls sign up for softball.

The first practice will take place on May 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lawn Avenue School softball field. Players can wear sneakers or cleats and will need to bring a glove. The rec department provides all the rest of the gear.

The program costs $25 for a single player and $35 for the family plan. It runs from May 5 to June 23 for eight weeks of instruction and team games.

The softball teams march in the Little League parade on May 5 to kick off the season. The rec department provides pink T-shirts and pink visors to outfit the girls for the parade, Goldstein said.

Girls in grades one through three will play in the instructional league, while the older children play in the youth league. They might all play together in the games, though, depending on the number of girls who show up. Last year, 27 girls signed up and that meant only enough players to field two teams.

“We had a first to sixth grade mix,” Goldstein said. “We had different levels playing together, which isn’t ideal.”

This year, she would like to build up the program, so the instructional league kids could play another team their own age, and the coaches wouldn’t have to mix players at different levels on the same teams.

Goldstein said the coaches usually taught skills during the first part of the morning, and then the children played a softball game.

“We had low-key instruction,” she said, “and they played games at the end.”

An adult coed softball league is also in the works, according to the rec department’s website.

Parents who have girls interested in softball can go to the rec department’s page on the town’s website, JamestownRI.net, and download registration forms. Applications are due by Friday, April 20.

The Saturday morning program runs from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information, Goldstein can be reached at 423-7260.

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