Maricopa Little League’s eighth year of youth baseball and softball competition is underway, with kids between the ages of 4 and 8 swinging bats and fielding grounders in the T-Ball and Machine Pitch divisions that started on Jan. 29, while league officials continue to sign up players and adult volunteers for the Minor and Major divisions, which begin play in March.
“We have been working on this since November,” said David Chavez, president of the executive board. “It is nice to finally see it starting. We are pretty excited about it.”
The T-Ball kids, ages 4-7, and Machine Pitch players, ages 6-8, will play their games at Pacana Park until March.
Registration remains open for the Minors (ages 8-11) and Majors (ages 9-12), as well as for the Juniors and Seniors (ages 13-16).
The Minors and Majors boys baseball and girls softball seasons will kick off with an opening day celebration on March 19 at Pacana Park.
“It is easier for us to split it into two different seasons so we can take care of the younger kids earlier,” Chavez said.
“Some of the kids who play Machine Pitch, if they are old enough, can play in the Minors in the second season.”
The overlap in ages between the TBall and Machine Pitch divisions, and between the Minors and Majors, is designed to account for differences in skill level. For example, children ages 6 and 7 who have never played baseball have the option of starting in T-Ball, while experienced players in that age range can choose to participate in the more advanced Machine Pitch division.
Players can register for the Minors and Majors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays throughout February at Pacana Park. The two divisions will conduct player evaluations — where coaches watch participants field, throw and hit — on March 2 at Pacana Park and on March 5 at Maricopa Wells Middle School.
Following the March 5 evaluation session, a draft will be held to assign players to teams in the Majors and Minors, with the Majors picking their teams first.
Chavez is anticipating that 200 to 300 players will register for the Minors and Majors, which are each projected to have six to eight teams. He said that about 220 children are participating in the T-Ball and Machine Pitch divisions, which have eight and 10 teams, respectively.
Additionally, the league is taking registration for players in the Junior and Senior divisions’ season. Their seasons will begin in May.
Registration fees for the Maricopa Little League are $100 for Minors, Majors, Juniors and Seniors; $80 for Machine Pitch; and $70 for T-Ball.
Registration forms are available online at maricopalittleleague.com
Chavez has worked with the Maricopa Little League since 2003. He and the other executive board members volunteer their time, as do the league’s coaches, umpires, scorekeepers, concession workers and groundskeepers.
“I am enjoying it,” Chavez said. “It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. A lot of us on the executive board serve as umpires and scorekeepers, and everyone is glad to do it. The executive board’s main driving force is providing a fun, safe learning experience for the kids.”