Havre's little leagues transition to Cal Ripken
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Little league baseball is growing again in Havre, and with another season already nearing its end, some changes have been made to better the program.
Before this year little league baseball in Havre was an independent organization.
And now its affiliated with Cal Ripken Youth Baseball.
Doug Denny and the rest of the little league board members are pleased with the new title, as well as the changes it brings to the area's growing sport.
As far as Denny has seen, the transition to Cal Ripken has brought nothing but positives. And really, the changes are minimal.
Cal Ripken baseball is for players 12 and under. The age specifications remain the same, but what used to be A, B and C leagues are now Majors, Minors and Rookies. The Majors are for ages 11 and 12, while the Minors are for ages nine and 10 the Rookies are for ages seven and eight. T-Ball is also apart of Cal Ripken, but remains under the title of T-Ball.
Some of the more specific changes apply only to the Major's league.
Instead of the bases being 60 feet, they are now 70 feet. And instead of the pitcher's mound being 46 feet from home plate, it is now 50 feet. Increasing the distance of both the bases and pitcher's mound will help lessen the difficulties when players transition from Cal Ripken to Babe Ruth baseball, where the bases are 90 feet and their pitcher's mound is 60 feet from home plate. The Majors are also aloud to steal bases per normal baseball rules. Before, runners could only leave the base after the pitcher released the ball, and or, on passed balls. Nor runners can lead off.
"The whole idea around this was to try and prepare those boys for the step up into Babe Ruth," Denny said. "I think the kids are excited, and I think it just makes for a lot better baseball.
The kids are having a lot of fun and they are also learning a lot about baseball." But Denny said that one of the more important reasons for the move into Cal Ripken was for the sanctioning.
In the past HYBA teams have had trouble getting its All-Star teams games. But now that they are sanctioned they don't have to worry as All-Star games and tournaments are already determined.
Also Havre teams can now compete for districts, state, regional and national titles.
With all the changes that have been instated, prices have also been slightly increased. But with it only adding up to $13 extra per team, parents wallets didn't take a hit this season. The extra $13 is the cost for teams to be sanctioned in Cal Ripken.
"That is due to some great fundraising that was done by the parents last year," Denny said. "We were able to keep the fees down, but of course our fees always do depend on how well the fundraising goes year to year." The Beer Garden at the fair is the biggest fundraiser for youth baseball, as is an annual raffle.
The transition into Babe Ruth is important, but so is having fun. With the fundraising that is done each year, money is also set aside for scholarships.
The whole goal of Havre Youth Baseball is to get as many kids out, have fun and learn a little something about baseball.
"We want to try to keep this affordable to where all kids can participate." Denny said. "It's all about having fun." The HYBA seasons are winding down. The Majors are conducting their city tournament this weekend at Lions Field, while the Minors and Rookies are playing out their schedule.
The Babe Ruth Tournament will begin next week at Legion Field.