We are proud to announce that as of the 2020 season, our softball program will officially part of the South Maryland Little League and participate in the national Little League softball program. SMLL Softball is dedicated to teaching good fundamentals of softball to develop the skills required to advance our players to the next level of play, while having fun doing it. We have an open communications policy and stress continuous process improvement of our organization including reviews of the coaches, organization, policies and direction to keep moving the program forward.
Minors (9-11 Years Old on Jan 1, 2020)
Advanced 8 year olds may also try-out for this age group, but requires attending player evaluations early in the Spring. This age group, 8-11 years old shifts to full-time kid pitching, and base stealing is introduced, which then introduces the dynamic of catchers throwing out base runners. Pitching is a focus of this level, with kids pitching each inning, coaches however will come on instead of a walk or hit by pitch to finish the at bat with coach pitch. This helps take some of the pressure off of learning pitchers, while still giving them the chance to succeed and improve through repetition. Evaluations will begin the season, which is followed by a few weeks of practice with the entire age group together, before splitting into teams for the start of the season in April. Practice two times per week, with games on Saturdays, and an additional game some weeknights in Davidsonville. No away games on weeknights. Gloves, cleats, and water bottles are required, and their own helmet and bat are strongly encouraged.
Ponytail (6-8 Years Old on Jan 1, 2020)
Advanced 6 year olds are welcome to sign up for this age group. 4-5 year old girls are encouraged to play in the co-ed T-ball division with baseball, and girls just starting out at 6 are welcome to play at that level as well, especially if just starting out with team sports. A softball program for girls 6-8 years old with little to no experience. This program is designed as a follow up to co-ed T-Ball that introduces coach-pitch. There are strikeouts, however, if the count gets to four balls, a tee is brought in to help finish the at-bat. More advanced base running and situations are introduced, as well as catching in full gear. This level helps to teach defense, learning the strike zone and preparing the girls for the next level where the kids pitch full time. Joint practices will begin in March, 1-2 nights per week, before splitting into individual team practices when the season starts in April. Two nights of practice per week, with games on Saturdays, and a few additional weeknight games in Davidsonville. No away games on weeknights. Gloves, cleats, and water bottles are required, and their own helmet and bat are strongly encouraged.
Assessments: Assessments will take place at the end of February/beginning of March and will consist of different stations where we will look at individual skills used in Softball. Ratings will be given and then used to create teams. Attending assessments is mandatory for the Minors age group and older, including any 8 year olds that would like to play up to minors. Anyone requesting to play up an age group must be evaluated during assessments. At least one parent must attend for each player, an important parent meeting will take place during assessments.
Uniform: Registration for SMLL spring softball includes the jersey at all age levels.
Ponytail: A jersey will be provided, and parents must provide any pair of black pants. Hats are available to purchase from SMLL, but are not required during games due to helmet and fielding masks.
Minors: A jersey will be provided, and parents must provide black softball pants. Due to the variance in sizing and fit, we are leaving the pants to parents to make it easier to find comfortable and correctly fitting pants. Hats are available for purchase but are not required during games due to helmets and fielding mask use.
Softball Equipment: Players are expected to provide their own helmet, bat, and glove. If a family has financial difficulty providing this equipment, please contact SMLL. Many families are happy to donate their used equipment from previous years and would gladly see their lightly worn equipment go to good use.
Catching Equipment: Catching equipment, will be provided by SMLL up to the Majors divison. SMLL highly recommends that players interested in catching at the age of 10 and up (second year in Minors) should purchase a catcher’s set. A set typically runs $120-$200 but will last your player the 3 remaining years of Minors and Majors baseball. A personal set will allow you to adjust the set to properly fit your player. Fitting a player with shared catching gear in between innings is practically impossible and quite often there are not enough sets available for proper practice time and warming of pitchers.
Helmets: SMLL does not recommend sharing batting helmets for obvious health safety concerns. However, it is expected that all levels of play use helmets. Batting with a helmet needs to feel natural to players and the introduction of the helmet early is critical to this development. For any parent of younger players, if you attend a practice for older players, you will see those players wearing their helmets when practicing off of the Tee (yes, players hit off a Tee all the way through the Major Leagues !!!). Little League rules do dictate that helmets have a reasonable finish coat, helmets that are excessively “shiny” in the sunlight may be deemed ineligible by an umpire. Helmets MUST have a facemask to be allowed to play, and need to fit properly in order to not flop around as the player is running. Younger players with smaller heads are especially encouraged to try on various helmets at the store to ensure proper fit, please try to avoid buying with enough space to "grow into" as these end up not being worn due to comfort and safety.
Softball bats may not exceed 33", bats shall be printed with a BPF (bat performance factor) of 1.20 and must have a properly taped handle.
Fit is also very important here, especially at the younger levels. The appropriate weight and length need to be found or it will seriously impact the development and swing of younger girls as they are still growing. Natural swing motion, arm length, muscle strength, height, and reaction speed all play parts in choosing the right bat. It is encouraged that players attend practices and get assessed by coaches before buying a bat. Purchasing the pretty bat that they like at the store often ends up making batting more difficult if the wrong length and weight are purchased. It is ok to attend a few practices before making the commitment to purchase a bat to make sure we find the correct size, sharing and sampling different bats and sizes is common and expected in this window and often helps the process.
Gloves: SMLL recommends that each player transition to standard 11” or 12” infielder glove by Minors softball. Use of “kid” gloves isn’t appropriate at Minors softball and beyond. Parents can judge when that transition is best based on the player’s size and development in Ponytail. Softer leather gloves are available in these sizes and help with the lack of hand strength at this age, as they are easier to open and close than regular hard leather gloves that need to be broken in.
Shoes: SMLL highly recommends softballcleats for the Ponytail divisions and higher, soccer cleats can also be worn. Cleats for Majors and below must be molded rubber cleats. After rain especially, fields can be soft and slippery to play on, and the risk of injury is there in normal tennis shoes.
The number of teams fielded will depend on the number of coaches and field availability, so if you have interest in coaching or assistant coaching, please indicate on your sign up page, or email Softball@DAAgators.org.
Additional volunteers are needed for this young program: Field Maintenance, Fundraising, Assessment Day, Concessions, and Team Managers are all positions we are looking for.
Because we are just starting out as a program, we have many needs for equipment and supplies, if you, a person, or company you may know would be interested in donating or sponsoring to help with these needs and costs, please let us know.
Space is limited so make sure you register right away! Sign ups will open Jan 1st, 2020. Questions or requests for more information can be sent to Softball@DAAGators.org.