Longtime Little League Vice President Slade Gibson knew baseball-softball season had arrived almost the minute he showed up Saturday morning at Rumsey Park.
“It was overcast, cold, the wind was blowing and players were huddling on the field to keep warm,” he said. “That’s the way it always is in Payson for the start of the season.”
Despite the inclement conditions, Little League softball tryouts went on as scheduled for the about 60 aspiring players who showed up.
“The numbers aren’t bad, but we expect more,” Gibson said.
Softball officials hope this year, which is only the third year of the program, to field at least three teams in both the major and minor divisions and two — with a possibility of three — in the coach-pitch division.
Plans are to also field a junior (13- to 14-year-old) division team, but it will not kick off until early in the summer because most players that age are playing softball for Payson High School.
“We’ll get that up and running when it’s time,” promises Gibson.
With softball tryouts in the rearview mirror, league officials are gearing up for baseball tryouts, which will begin at 10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 27 at Rumsey Park Kiwanis field.
All boys 9 to 12 years old not already on a team must try out.
Gibson admits to having some concerns about baseball saying, “our numbers are low; we need more (players) to sign up.”
He and other baseball officials believe the problem might be the $80 registration fee.
“With the economy the way it is, some parents might not have the money,” said Gibson.
If that is the situation in a family, Gibson is urging parents to go ahead and register their children and league officials will do what they can to assist with scholarship help.
In an effort to ensure that every child who wishes to play can do so, regardless of family financial situations, Gibson has issued a plea to the community to jump in and help with much-needed financial help.
All monies donated will be used to pay the registration fees for needy players.
Those wishing to help can do so by calling Gibson at (928) 200-3049 or Felicia Moore at (928) 476-5440.
For coaches, a clinic hosted by Curtis Johnson will be held in early March, the exact date is yet to be determined.
Johnson is a former Lady Longhorn varsity coach who also coaches at Rim Country Middle School.