The umpires’ calls of balls and strikes will soon be ringing across the diamonds as the Sooke Minor Fastball Association swings into another season.
There’s a lot of good news to share heading into this year, said president Justin Wilson.
Registration is up significantly for boys and girls between the ages of four and 18.
”We have 150 players, which is quite a ways ahead of the 113 we had at this time last year in terms of registration.”
Wilson credits some interactive demonstrations at two elementary schools and distributing more handouts for the increase.
“We have a brand new U12 team at the higher B level this year,” he said.
It means there will be higher level U12 and U16 B teams this year, compared to just one U14 team last year. “[It] speaks to the strength of the organization,” Wilson said.
There are a number of improvements on the way as well, thanks in part to fundraising at the Sooke Craft Beer & Spirits Festival, which took place Feb. 22.
“It was a huge success,” Wilson said. “We’ve upgraded or purchased $5,000 worth of equipment for the kids.”
One of the three diamonds at Art Morris Park has been resurfaced, an infield has been replaced and maintenance completed to keep the grass healthy on all three outfields.
The association was also able to cover the cost of clinics to train coaches. “The association is on firm financial ground,” Wilson added.
A new electronic scoreboard is being erected, thanks to an initiative involving the Sooke Minor Fastball Association, Sooke Men’s Fastball and financial support from Brian Banner, one of the owners of Compass Electric, and the Sooke Community Association. The Sooke Men’s Fastball Association is providing the labour.
With 15 to 16 teams expected to take the field, there is a need for more umpires. The next course is scheduled for April 5, and those interested in getting involved should email Sean Beatty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for player registration is March 31, with the season expected to start the second week of April. While there is some concern about scheduling due to the COVID-19 virus, Wilson said all they can do regarding the possibility of cancellations is follow guidelines from Softball Canada.
For more information or to register online, please go to sookefastball.com.