Area youth league ready for 2016 season
Published 12:44 am Friday, February 5, 2016
By TAYLOR DENMAN
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — A lot can change in 55 years.
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But that’s not the case for youth baseball in Natchez, where kids have played in Dixie Youth Baseball leagues since 1951.
Natchez Dixie Youth League President Tim McCann hopes to keep the tradition going.
“We’re playing Dixie Youth baseball,” McCann said. “We don’t discriminate between color or sex …We’ve been here for 55 years and we plan to be here for another 55 years.”
Registration for the 2016 season in currently under way. McCann said the deadline is set for Feb. 29. To register, visit natchezdyb.org or pick up a registration form at Sports Center. Interested parents can opt to coach when registering their child. The fee is $80 per child.
Tryouts will take place at Duncan Park. Tryouts for the T-ball A league and the 9- and 10-year-old AAA league are set for March 3. The AA Coach Pitch league and 11- and 12-year-old O-Zone league tryouts are scheduled for March 4. Both are scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
The league draft will take place the week following tryouts, and games will begin March 28.
Tryout dates are contingent on the weather, but registered applicants can call 601-653-9593 for scheduling information.
Any player that signs up will be selected for a team, which is something McCann said was not always true in the past. It’s true to the theme of Dixie Youth Baseball, which gives boys and girls the opportunity to play regularly and experience the dynamic of a team sport in a competitive but still casual setting.
“Playing league ball brings kids together to participate on a team,” McCann said.
McCann said he is a former Dixie Youth ballplayer. As a kid, McCann said uniforms were hot and itchy wool that players returned at the end of the season. Now the uniforms have been updated to a wicked, moisture resistant fabric and kids keep their jerseys at the end of the season.
Players are responsible for personal equipment including, bats, gloves and helmets.
The ongoing progression still prevalent in youth baseball is how to keep the game safe, primarily by regulations of the dimensions of bats. The new standard diameter of a big barrel bat has been lengthened to 2-and five-eighth-inch bats, as opposed to 2 and one-quarter inches since 2014. All leagues will also be playing with standard cork and rubber baseballs rather than safety baseballs used in younger leagues.
All-Star travel teams will be selected after games end in early June. State tournaments are in early July, and Laurel will host the Mississippi World Series.
Natchez will have a title to defend this season. Brandon Atkins coached his son Cooper Atkins’ All-Star team to a Mississippi T-Ball State Championship in 2015,
“I grew up (playing Dixie Youth Baseball),” Brandon Atkins said. “I still don’t think it set in with (the team) that they were the best in the state.”