Vidalia Little League Softball adds Challengers Division

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

vidalia — The first pitch of the 2012 Vidalia Little League Softball season is right around the corner, and this season will feature a couple of new additions to the already-growing league.

“We’re excited about this year,” league president Greg Young said. “Our league is huge this year, and it was huge last year.”

Player registration will be on Feb. 25 and March 3 for all Vidalia softball age groups, as well as the new Challengers Division, Young said.

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The Challengers Division is a league for players who are physically or mentally unable to participate in the traditional softball leagues, and Young said the players in the Challengers Division would be allowed to play free of charge.

Young said the Challengers Division is in its infancy, but he has already seen interest from the community.

League board member Brent Smith is also helping organize the new Challengers Division, and he said he got the idea for the division while at a Little League tournament in Lafayette, La.

He said his team was preparing to play a game and they were asked to change fields in order to allow the Challengers Division players to get on the field where they were scheduled to play.

Once Smith saw why they were asked to move and saw the Challengers Division ceremony, Smith was touched, he said. He also said he wanted to bring the idea to the Miss-Lou.

“I had tears in my eyes just watching them,” Smith said. “Instead of going right to the dugout to get the girls warm, I called (Young) and said, ‘When I get back, we’re going to do something like this.’

“We want to have a league for special needs kids, because we see too many that don’t get a chance to play ball, and everybody ought to have a chance to play ball.”

The new division will be for boys and girls ages 4 to 22, Smith said.

Smith said each player would participate with a “buddy” who helps him or her during the game.

“It can be a dad, sister, friend, whoever, that actually gets on the field with them and helps them,” Smith said.

Smith also said there would be a lot of trial and error this season in order to give the players the best possible playing experience.

“I’ve never seen this before, so I don’t really know how it’s going to work, but I’m sure it’s going to go well,” he said.

Smith said several Miss-Lou residents who work with special needs children professionally would be assisting the league.

Outside of the addition of a new division, the organizers of Vidalia Little League Softball are expecting to be able to use new facilities at the end of the season, Young said.

“We’re hoping toward the end of the season we might be able to go to the new complex if the weather permits,” Young said.

Young said the league featured 471 players last season, and he is expecting more than 500 this year.

Young said with the addition of so many players, the league is running short on coaches, and he hopes more people in the community will sign up to coach this season.

Registration is $60 per child in each of the six age groups: 3-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-19.

Young said tentative dates have been chosen for selecting teams and starting practice, but they have to wait until registration is closed to see how many players they have to set final dates.

For more information about Vidalia Softball or the new Challengers Division, contact Young at 601-870-6003 or Smith at 318-481-3073.