Posted April 12, 2017 at 8:57 am

Opening Day for youth league

baseball, softball is April 22

The Albany Cal Ripken is in full swing and with sign ups already been held and the second week of practice underway, organizers, coaches and players are gearing up for the April 22 Opening Day.

Second year president Chad Arms is excited about the start of the new season and hopes it’s better than last year.

“Last year we had a large amount of kids,” Arms said. “This year we are about 30 down from last year, but it’s just where some have moved out of the age limit. Last year was an epic year. I think it was 306 athletes.”

Arms said each division has at least three teams each, which offers the players plenty of competition throughout the year.

Some divisions will also be doing a little bit of traveling with deals being made with Burkesville Cal Ripken.

“We’ve got coach pitch involved in some out of town action,” Arms said. “We are definitely going to play with Burkesville. Wayne County is wanting to play some too, but now that we have our schedule made with Burkesville I don’t know if there is any open spots to get any games with Wayne County. We will have to see how that goes.”

The Albany Cal Ripken League, has age divisions for children ages three-12, both boys and girls.

Wee Ball and T-Ball consists of boys and girls ages three to five, coach pitch for boys and girls ages 6-8, and Arms said they combined the nine and 10 year olds with the 11 and 12 year olds, which is considered live arm group.

Once players get to the nine year old group, they are split by gender and the girls play fastpitch softball while the boys play baseball.

Playing at such a young age can really improve player fundamentals and prepare them for the high school level. Over the past several years, each high school coach has praised the Cal Ripken league saying it’s a great feeder program to get the players ready for the next level.

Arms said he wasn’t certain about a complete activity schedule for opening day, but for sure they are going to have the parade that morning followed by the opening ceremonies.

“I’m afraid about the time the games start the weather is going to get bad, but we’ve had great weather so far,” Arms said.

Arms said the Cal Ripken board of directors still have a couple of meetings left before anything is finalized on what is going to happen for opening day.

“By no means are we going to do away with the parade,” Arms said. “It’s one thing people enjoy so we are going to keep that.”

One thing the league has struggled with for several years is volunteers. Arms said he would love for the board to go from 11 to 12 members to 18 to 20 members.

“The more people’s thoughts you have the better it’s going to be,” Arms said. “We will take what we got and do the best we can, but I’ve always thought the more people you can have on something like this the better off you’re going to be.”

Arms said to be a coach for the league, you have to pass a background check. This is done to insure the safety of the kids.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction and all the coaches know we do this,” Arms said. “We are the judge and the final say in that.”

As far as the fields are concerned, Arms said the fields are in great shape and a lot of work has been done.

“As long as we don’t have a big rain they will be really good this year,” Arms said. “Bobby Reneau and the middle school has done a lot of work to them this year and they really look good.”

Once plans have been finalized for the opening day ceremony, the Clinton County News’ website and Facebook page will be updated with a complete schedule.