The familiar sounds of the crack of the bat and of a ball smacking into a glove have been filling the air recently, as Smithers Junior Softball starts up their season. Diamonds at Elks and Heritage Park will host the action for teams from Mites to Midgets. League vice-president Bill Jex said the league is halfway through a five year growth and expansion plan, and turnout is higher this year than the last few years.
The league has offered training clinics for coaches and certification for umpires, and many are returning for multiple seasons. Players are also returning more regularly, where in the past many would come and go from season to season. Setting up the schedule for minimal conflict with the soccer league has helped as well, said Jex.
Along with expanding participation numbers, he’d like all of the teams to have sponsors. Currently there are two teams that don’t have any direct support from a business in the community.
“We would like to see full sponsorship of all of our teams,” he said. “We are reliant on community support through sponsorships.”
The town performed some minor alterations to the diamonds this year, expanding fencing to allow the league to host tournaments. There is also a diamond designated for full time use for the youngest players.
Another aspect of the five year plan is to develop a stronger girls program, said Jex. At the provincial level, teams are split by gender, and Smithers doesn’t currently have enough players to field a full team. Again, players coming and going is part of the problem.
“If they were all to come at the same time, in the same year, we might have enough for a program,” he said.
For now, baseball fans can check out action at both ends of town five nights a week, a sure sign the league is in good shape for another great season of baseball.
“We’re on track with where we want to be,” said Jex.