Local youth baseball league prepares for 2017 campaign

Published 12:06 am Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sports can often be all about winning, but for Dixie Youth Baseball leagues in 11 different states around the country, it’s about much more than that.

The Natchez Dixie Youth league is no exception, giving children in the area a chance to be involved in a team sport for more than 50 years.

“If you are into baseball, you are going to know what Dixie Youth is,” Natchez League President Tim McCann said. “We want everyone to play. It gives the children something to do.”

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McCann, who is going into his second year as president, said that in 2017, he thinks it’s imperative to get children out of the house more than ever.

“It gets them on the field and in a group setting for a little bit of recreational activity,” he said. “(When I played Dixie Youth), we didn’t have the TVs, computers to distract us.”

Dixie Youth doesn’t just give children an opportunity to play despite their talent level, but also watch after them while they participate.

Staring this year, Dixie Youth Baseball has implemented a pitch count rule to protect the older age groups from getting injured. Pitchers in AAA leagues, ages 9-10, are now limited to 75 pitches in a single day, and O-Zone league members, ages 11-12, may not throw more than 85 in a day.

“You have to have the mindset to take care of the child,” McCann said. “He or she might be yours, but also may be somebody else’s kid.”

McCann also said that just because a child is on tournament team, it wouldn’t interfere with Natchez Dixie Youth since tournament play is usually on the weekend, and DYB is played Monday through Friday.

Dixie Youth provides benefits off the field as well.

Scholarships are available each year for any graduating senior who participated in the sport for at least one year while between the ages of 5 and 12.

McCann said that five different local students received at total of $1,500 worth of scholarships last year.

“The great thing is that we (Dixie Youth) are not just limited to boys,” McCann said. “We have a mixed group out here.”

Overall, McCann said that he just wants Natchez’s league to stay relaxed and enjoyable for everyone.

“You may have three kids in your (school) class from your team and three kids from another class on another, but after the game is over it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Down the road, these kids will have the bond forever.”

How to sign up

Registration to tryout for Natchez Dixie Youth Baseball will begin Feb. 1 and packets can be picked up at Sports Center. A copy of the player’s birth certificate must be submitted with the registration forms and brought back to Sports Center or mailed with payments before March 3. The cost is $85 and includes a shirt, cap and team photo.

Once registered, tryouts for T-ball, ages 6 and under, and Coach Pitch, ages 7-8, will be on March 9. Age groups 9-10 and 11-12, will have tryouts on March 10.

Tryouts will be held at the Duncan Park baseball fields starting at 5:30 p.m. on each day and teams will be chosen the week following.