UNION COUNTY — Winter sports are winding down and soon the Timken Sports Complex will be filled with the sounds of baseball being played on every field.
Dixie Youth and Dixie Boys will be kicking off the 2013 season with a couple of changes that League President Tommy Ford is excited about, including the new Machine Pitch and O-Zone leagues.
“There’s going to be a lot of positive changes within our organization and we want to see the kids of Union County take part in the program,” said League President Tommy Ford.
Not only does Dixie baseball provide athletes with a summer activity, it also prepares them for the next level, especially with the new rule changes that will take place this year.
“We’re starting O-Zone for eleven to twelve year olds,” said Ford. “It’s going to be more like the baseball they’ll play when they get to middle school, high school and American Legion,” said Ford.
The O-Zone rules aren’t a tremendous change, but a few tweaks can make a noticeable difference.
Runners are now allowed to lead off a base and steal, pitchers will throw from the stretch and a balk is recognized as an illegal motion by the pitcher and results in the on-base runner being awarded the next base.
With new rules, a smoother transition is expected and players are more prepared and ready to play ball.
The main purpose of the Dixie Boys program is to provide a recreation outlet for as many boys as possible, with emphasis being on local league play rather than tournament play. There are however, district tournaments, state tournaments and a world series for leagues that wish to participate and Union County has elected again this year to compete in those.
No cuts will be made and there will be 12 players per team to ensure playing time for each athlete.
Registration for the 2013 baseball season is already underway and will continue throughout the month of March on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. at the Recreation Department.
Baseball will be offered to players at the following levels:
Machine Pitch: Ages 6-8
Minors: Ages 9-10
O-Zone: Ages 11-12
Pony League: Ages 13-14
Registration fees for Minors and O-Zone are $55 per player, while Pony League fees are $60 per player and Machine Pitch is $35.