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Little League players prepare for season
North Whidbey Little League President Ken Tyler said the number of players signed up for the 2009 baseball and softball seasons is much lower than last year.
“We’re down about 100 kids from last year and I really don’t know the reason why,” he said. “I don’t think it is just because of the economy, as many of our players are Navy kids and their parents don’t have to worry about being laid off.”
Tyler said it was probably a combination of things that led to the lower turnout of players, including fewer kids living in town and other recreational programs being offered, such as youth soccer.
Tyler said league officials lowered the early registration fee by $20 this year in hopes of having more players signup and will continue to try to adjust fees when necessary.
“Overall, the league is in good shape financially,” Tyler said. “We are a nonprofit group and that helps us a lot.”
Despite having fewer players this season, enthusiasm was running high at Victory Square Park Sunday afternoon on the final day of softball tryouts before coaches begin to make evaluations and form teams.
The first session of early afternoon tryouts were supposed to be for players ages 7 to 9 but several older, veteran, players were on hand getting in some batting and throwing practice before their tryout session scheduled for later in the afternoon began.
Kaitlyn Curtis was working hard and trying to make a good impression even before the the tryout session began.
The 8-year-old looked sharp throwing the ball from behind the player to several other players at infield positions around the diamond.
“This is my first year playing softball, I’ve never done it before,” she said. “I don’t have any brothers to practice with, but my sister, Jessica, plays soccer, volleyball and basketball.”
Emma Kirk, a 9-year-old who said she attends Crescent Harbor Elementary School, was also throwing well and made several good plays at first base on ground balls.
“I’ve played before,” she said with a smile. “T-ball and softball.”
Kirk took a break from practice and was soon joined by Shea Davis and Sydney White, who said they were both 9-and-a-half years of age and attend Hillcrest Elementary School.
Davis said she has played three years and her favorite position is first base, while White, also a three-year veteran player, said she liked catching the best.
North Whidbey Little League teams will begin playing later this month at Windjammer Park, Victory Square Park and Fort Nugent Park, while
Babe Ruth baseball’s home field is at Clover Valley Park.