How can local youth softball step away from its status as a back-burner sport in Mariposa County and shine in the spotlight?
Numbers were down last season. But this year, Mariposa Girls Softball (MGS) leadership expects participation to return to normal levels. Rebecca Hatcher, vice president of MGS, wants to see the program as a whole take a step up.
Cohesive community support could be the difference in propelling the local organization to a bright future. New volunteers could guide the organization’s path ahead. Really, no matter how they get there, it all boils down to a common denominator.
“I just think it takes people,” Hatcher said. “We need the community to step up, donate to the softball league. Not only their time but also funds.”
Hatcher shared how last spring the local league “definitely had lower numbers than normal.” She attributed this mostly to the impacts of the ongoing pandemic, but also pointed to players lost to the Mariposa County Little League baseball group. Normally, each softball age division would field at least two teams. That was not the case in 2021.
Things should be different this time around.
“We expect things to definitely go back to normal this year,” Hatcher said.
The girls who did compete last year entered their seasons with pent-up excitement. The same could be said for parents and coaches. This year, MGS is going to start its schedules later so the kids can actually play more than previous campaigns.
“Normally, when we start the season early, a lot of our first several games are rained out,” Hatcher explained. “So, we’re going to try and push the start of the season out slightly.”
Evaluations will be held and ream selections will be made on Saturday, March 19. Team practices will start the week of March 21, and games are slated to begin during the first weekend of April.
Hatcher said league leadership is “desperately looking for coaches and board members.” New blood is needed. The league’s opening ceremonies will function like a barbecue this year, she explained — “but of course, we need help with all that,” Hatcher added. “We can’t do it with just a couple of us.”
Most softball league board members no longer have kids plying in the league. Hatcher has been motivated to remain part of the board because she believes youth sports are important to local children and the community.
“And if we don’t have people on the board, those seasons can’t take place,” Hatcher said. “And our kids need sports. So, I would never just leave anyone hanging. Especially our kids. So as long as they need me, I’ll stay. But we would love to see some new people step up and take over.”
She encouraged community members to join the board because the work is rewarding. Seeing the girls learning and growing is fun and worthwhile. It also gives onlookers the opportunity to join the group and make changes they think could better the organization.
The hope is that more parents and volunteers will help change youth softball’s status in Mariposa County. At least one positive effect of investing in the program is clear to Hatcher.
“The truth is, if we keep building up the young women of our community, these girls can go get scholarships to play ball in college,” she said. “And be set up. Most of our families can’t afford to send their daughters on a full-ride to college, and if we’re building up a softball program, some of these girls can get scholarships to take care of that.”
A pre-registration form was posted on the Mariposa Girls Softball Facebook page last week. That form can be accessed at docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdwdwGqnXlCR6lwPauNER1VNtvFUD2iojACBTNdRMdsd0wA/viewform?fbclid=IwAR263LmKvJG4grorA5kiwT4Yyaw9PFBjLkxNBDwbLbk67 sRuLlM286nwug.
Parents with questions are encouraged to contact league president Autumn Hutchings at AutumnHutchings@hotmail.com.