Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 13, 2013

Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department opens baseball registration

AMERICUS — The Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department announces youth baseball registration dates from February 1 to March 1. Those wishing to participate in youth baseball can sign up at the Columns at Boone Park Community Center, located at 408 Rucker Street from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. There are leagues available for children ages 5–12 and the cost to register is $60 per player. This fee is due at the time of registration.

The Spring is a favorite time of year at the Parks and Recreation Department. Hundreds of young people and their parents converge nightly on the Sumter County Regional Park baseball diamonds to play the great American past time. Sumter County is well respected for their youth baseball program which has seemed to find the balance between participation by all and competitiveness.

A child can begin their baseball career with tee ball at the age of five. This league is non-competitive (meaning no score is kept on the scoreboard) and all participants get to play for the entire game. At age 6, a player moves into a “coach pitch” league, which is similar to tee ball, only the coach pitches rather than players hitting it from a tee. This league is also non-competitive.

The first competitive league begins with the seven and eight year olds. This league, called the FLEA League, uses a pitching machine that throws at 38 miles per hour to the hitters. Players in this age division must attend a skills evaluation and be drafted onto a team. Once the games begin, a continuous batting order is used and players must play defensively in at least every other inning.

When a player reaches the age of nine, they enter the Little League Minor Division. These nine and ten year olds experience “live arm” pitching for the first time and play by the rules established by Little League International.

The oldest age division, for players 11 & 12 years of age is called Little League Major Division. These players also play “live arm” baseball and play by the national governing body rules. While the non competitive leagues of tee ball and coach pitch do not select post season teams, the FLEA division coaches will select a post season all-star team to compete in the Kiwanis tournament and the GRPA (Georgia Recreation and Park Association) District Tournament. The Little League will select both a Minor (nine and ten) and a Major (11 and 12) post season team to participate in district play.

One area of SCPRD baseball that has been confusing in the past is who is allowed to participate. Anyone who meets the age eligibility standards can participate on the local level. If a participant resides outside of Sumter County, their registration fee is equal to double the normal registration fee. To be eligible for post season play, there are two organizations in which the SCPRD must abide by their governing rules. For the FLEA (eight and under) division, players must either reside or attend school full-time in Sumter County and have been a part of the local program. For Little League Minor and Major Division, a player must reside in Sumter, Schley, Webster, Terrell or Macon Counties.

 “We have an excellent youth baseball program here in Sumter County” said Executive Director Tim Estes. “I can’t say enough about the leadership that is provided by Jeff Fussell and Dwight Harris, who supervise all of our youth athletic programs. We also have a tremendous group of volunteers who coach these teams and work with the children on a daily basis. Our umpires are adults who are well respected in this community and the parents have been very supportive. It’s a great family atmosphere at the ball park”.

In addition to local league play, the Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department has also been selected as the district and state tournament host for the GRPA eight-and-under tournaments this summer. “It’s an honor to be selected to host these tournaments. It was a competitive bidding process where we were competing against several other communities. The package that Jeff put together, along with our local hotel chains, and his presentation was very professional. That, combined with our past performance in hosting events like this and our involvement in GRPA helped to secure these events which will bring thousands of economic impact dollars into our community”. Prior to these events, the Kiwanis Club will host their annual invitational tournament to give Sumter County three large baseball tournaments for the summer.

Everyone is encouraged to register for youth baseball between February 1 and March 1. If you have questions, please contact the SCPRD at (229) 924–4878.

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