Playtime: Think spring — it’s time to register for youth baseball, softball leagues

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The sign was covered with snow but the message was announcing Pacific Little League registration.

In the spring, which at this point in this snow “event” seems impossibly far away, Lynndale Park is full of kids playing softball and baseball. Or they are in line, mitt tucked under an arm, for something tasty at the concession stand.

Pacific Little League (PLL) does everything from co-ed T-ball, for those ages 5 and 6, to softball and baseball for players all the way up to 16 years old. You may have seen an All Star PLL team in the parade on the 4th of July, a car full of kids with a PLL window/bumper sticker, or a yard sign with their registration info, much like the one they posted on their Facebook page during the storm, which had become completely covered in snow. What you may not know, is PLL also has the Challenger Program for players ages 4 to 18, which “gives kids in our community with a wide range of disabilities a chance to participate in a team sport alongside their neighbors and friends from school.”

Challenger baseball “Heroes” team. (Photos courtesy Pacific Little League)

I spoke with Kate Smith, who is on the PLL Board as VP of the Challenger Program, and she shared information about the program so you can see if it is the right fit for your family.

Smith has been with the program since her daughter, who is now 16, was 8 years old. She said that when they started there were eight players and that as of last season, they were up to 36 kids playing in the Challenger Program. Smith stressed that the program “includes everyone” —  even players outside the typical PLL boundaries — and has a wide variety of players. She adds that if your student “wants to participate in sports but can’t for any reason,” the Challenger Program is for you.

According to the PLL site, the Challenger Program is “for players with physical, mental, or social/emotional challenges,” and for families wondering if it’s a fit, Smith said, “if they’re comfortable, we’re comfortable.”

Smith really wants to get the word out about the program she calls “wonderful,” so that anyone who wants to play will get the chance. The Challenger teams really include everyone and foster a sense of “belonging,” she said. Praising Pacific Little League, Smith pointed out that since the league gives them a primetime slot, usually 1 p.m. for home games at Lynndale Park, this is a great way of integrating players like her daughter with the community.

The goal of the Challenger teams is to foster a sense of belonging.

With the Challenger Program, Smith said, her family loads into the car at the same time as the other PLL players and families in their neighborhood do, adding that they all show up wearing the same uniforms.

Registration is $30 for the season, which Smith describes as a very “low commitment” in terms of time, expectation and resources. Players don’t need any gear to join, and they mean it. Players don’t need cleats or baseball pants and the coaches have big bags of gear — mitts, bats and helmets — for players to use. Plus, each player gets a hat and jersey with registration. There are eight weekend games from roughly mid-April to mid-June, with home games at Lynndale Park. There are three teams and everyone bats and everyone plays on the field in each two-inning game. “The emphasis is on fun,” she said.

Smith stressed that whatever amount of participation that is good for your player and your family, is good for them. It is clear from our conversation that the program is truly flexible, with the goal that all who want to play, are able to play. If you have any more questions, I definitely recommend reaching out to her. You can find her contact information on the PLL Board Members page.

While we’re on the subject of local leagues, it is definitely the time to sign up to play softball and baseball. There are a few local leagues and those that are “Little League” go by boundaries, which you can find by using the LittleLeague.org League Finder. PLL boundaries include those who reside or attend school west of Highway 99, south of 148th Street Southwest and north of North 205th Street.

I reached out to Pacific Little League about their registration deadlines, and there is still time to get your player onto a team. While Friday, Feb. 15 was originally the deadline for Majors, due to the snow, they are extending the deadline until Sunday, Feb. 17. “Most other divisions” can register until Thursday, Feb. 28 with the T-Ball and Challenger Program registration open until Friday, March 15. For more information, including scholarship applications, and registration, you can visit PacificLittleLeague.com.

Photo courtesy Alderwood Little League

Alderwood Little League (ALL) is for players “within the portion of Edmonds School District which is EAST of Highway 99.” Like PLL, ALL has T-ball, softball, baseball, and a Challenger team. They also have scholarships available. Home games are at the Alderwood Little League complex, which is on 24th Avenue West, south of 196th. As of Feb. 10, “registrations will be permitted based on availability in each level,” so you’ll have to check and see if they have space at your player’s level. For more information and registration you can visit, AlderwoodLL.com.

Photo courtesy MTYAA Baseball Facebook page.

MTYAA Baseball is a local Pony — “Protect Our Nation’s Youth” — Baseball affiliate that has been in Mountlake Terrace for over 30 years. The league is open to boys and girls, and their home field is off Cypress Way in Lynnwood. I had heard the term “Pony” baseball, but didn’t realize it wasn’t just another word for the baseball I see at Lynndale. Unlike a “Little League” team, you aren’t subject to boundaries to join.

MYTAA has baseball for players aged 5 to 14, “older divisions available based on team/player interest.” Registration for those ages 9-10 and 11-12 will close on Feb. 21 with a tryout scheduled on Sunday, Feb. 24 at Mountlake Terrace High School, and all registered players will be placed on a team. The younger age groups — those ages 4-6 and 7-8 — can register until March 15. For more info on Pony baseball or to register, you can visit MYTAABaseball.org.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.

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