Youth League

White Sox pitcher Gunner Sheppard fires a pitch to the plate in a Minor League game against the Reds last Friday night.

After taking a year off because of the pandemic, the Berea Youth League enjoyed a robust season as the kids once again hit the diamond making plays and memories.

Vice president of baseball, Adam Grant said it was good to get back to some sense of normalcy and baseball and softball is a big part of it.

“It was special moment to see the kids back on the field after several months of being away from each other,” Grant said. “Last year, it was a ghost town out here.

Prior to that, we had 365 kids signed up for baseball, but the season was cancelled. By the end of last fall, the city of Berea OK’d it for us to try to do a fall ball season.”

While the numbers of players were down slightly, Grant feels the league provided an necessary outlet for the community, especially the many children on the field.

“We run around 400 in the spring, and during fall ball, we run 250-300 kids,” he said. The numbers were affected in the spring because of Covid. We were around 370. Due to Covid, we have to share the fields with Berea High School, and with those games, we had to start our games later.”

With many of the pandemic restrictions being lifted, Grant feels the numbers will continue to increase, and believes that will play out once fall ball begins.

The league has been around for many years, as many children have run the basepaths over the years. But that wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community, particularly Berea Parks and Recreation and the many outstanding volunteer coaches, Grant said.

“It’s all about the kids down here,” he stressed. “The city of Berea supplies the park, and they don’t charge us nothing, and they do a great job with the fields, including lining them. Pricilla Bloom, the parks director, is a big help to us.

Baseball is broken down into six divisions, starting with Wee Ball.

That is followed by an advanced T-Ball, Grant said.

“We coach pitch to them in advanced T-Ball,” Grant said. “Starting out, they use a tee, but by the end of the season, they’re hitting off the coaches. When they move up to the next level, they’re ready. It’s been a big help to our rookie division.”

T-ball is followed by the Rookie, Minor and Major divisions.

The league offers baseball for children from age 3-12, Grant said.

The league also offers girls fast pitch softball for the U8 and U10 divisions.

“In softball, the girls learn a lot and get separated from the boys and learn their game,” Grant said. “It’s great to have both.”

The league offers spring and fall ball, and every year the baseball and softball fields are packed with kids and fans.

One of the great benefits is the league helps feed the middle and subsequently the high school baseball teams in the future, which is a win-win for the entire community, Grant pointed out.

“We start them here, and a lot of our coaches understand what is expected at the middle school level, and this gets them ready for that level,” he said.

The league is open to players, so long as they meet the age requirements.

“We’ve had players from Richmond, Rockcastle County, Jackson County and Garrard County come out and play,” Grant said.

Like many other sports leagues, there are nominal fees required to play. The cost in the spring is $85 per child for the older age groups, Grant said.

“That’s because the league purchases the major-league style uniforms,” he explained.

The cost of fall ball ranges anywhere from $60-$75 per child, depending on the style of uniform the league goes with.

In the spring, the league is a benefactor of Linda Ross who offers the Matt Ross Fund, which sponsors up to 30 players. Signups for 2021 Fall Ball begin Aug. 1.

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