UNION — Elite USSSA Baseball registration is coming up and welcoming all youth to participate.
“We don’t care about athletic ability so much as we do just giving kids the opportunity to play and be a part of a team,” said Jeff Bailey. Bailey served as president of the league for eight years and will assist new president John Parks this year.
Other board members are Dale Inman (vice president), Gina Floyd (treasurer), Christi Latham (secretary), DeeAnn Parks, Ronnie “Bop” Latham, Pat Fowler, Michelle Brannon, John Young, Thomas Parks, Jeff Bailey and Todd Palmer.
The league has been playing under USSSA sanction for the past four years with over 20 teams participating last year. Elite USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) looks to not only meet, but exceed that number this season.
Like last year, Timken Sports Complex will offer fields to the league to relieve some of the pressures of having just the two fields in Lockhart as was the case two years ago. Every division will have games scheduled at least once a week at Timken.
Elite USSSA’s mission is to provide today’s youth with the best possible baseball experience by allowing its players to compete at an elite level while instilling discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship and honesty.
USSSA offers four divisions — 3-5 T Ball, 6-7 Machine/Coach Pitch, 8-10 (modified high school rules) and 11-13 (high school rules).
“The reason we play the modified high school and high school rules is because if we teach them at a younger level, when they get to Sims, Lockhart and Jonesville, it makes the coaches jobs easier because they’ve been exposed to those rules instead of playing just regular rec baseball that doesn’t prepare the kids,” said Bailey. “What we do prepares them for when they get to middle school baseball. The coaches are getting kids that have already been learning the rules they’ll use in JV and high school. Just like with Byrnes — people wonder why their football program is so successful — it’s because they start at the recreation level, implementing the same plays, the same techniques and it carries on through. Our goal is to teach the kids real baseball.”
Registration forms will be available at Elite USSSA’s “Baseball Fun Day,” scheduled for 11 a.m to 3 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Lockhart Dixie Youth fields. Athletes will participate in a homerun derby challenge, fielding drills, hit in the batting cages and throw around the horn. There will be a half and half raffle and the canteen will be open selling hot dogs, chips, drinks and popcorn.
Each player is asked to bring a copy of their birth certificate and will be placed on a team. Every player will play and there will be no cuts. Girls softball will also be offered this season.
Other registration dates are Feb. 23 and March 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lockhart Baseball Upper Field Canteen. Registration forms also will be available at the Union Recreation Department from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. the week of Feb. 4.
A registration fee of $40 per child will be required. The fee includes a hat, shirt and trophy for each player. A late registration will be held from 10 a.m. to noon March 9 at the Lockhart Baseball Field Upper Canteen. The late registration fee will be $50.
Due to family vacation and other planned summer events, no banquet will be held at the end of the season. Instead, trophies will be presented after each teams’ final game and players will eat from the canteen for free.
Opening Day is April 13, an all-day event at the Lockhart Dixie Youth fields. Teams will play through June at which time an All Star team will be chosen for both 8-10 year olds and 11-13 year olds.
The league is currently seeking coaches. Anyone interested in coaching a team must have a law enforcement background check.
Questions can be directed to John Parks at (864) 674-5454.