LAKEWOOD RANCH — As 10-year-old teammates Logan Newton and Allison Yawn warmed up in the bullpen, the two couldn’t help but stop and smile.
The two pitchers had been waiting all summer for this moment. And now, with the start of the Miss Manatee Softball League’s fall recreational season upon them, they couldn’t have been more thrilled.
“We’re always excited to get the season started,” said Logan, who plays for Geckos in the 12-under division.
“Just being able to play the game is fun,” she said.
More than 200 girls ages 4-17 took the fields adjacent to the Lakewood Ranch High School football field Oct. 3 as the Miss Manatee Softball League held its opening day ceremonies to officially welcome the start of the fall season.
“You get to see everyone out — all of the parents and the kids,” Miss Manatee Softball League President Scott Stevens said. “It’s great to get the season started.”
Eighteen teams, ranging from 8 and under to 13 and up, played their first games of the recreational season. The teams will continue to play games Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays through Nov. 21. Additionally, some players will also play travel ball Wednesdays and Sundays with makeup days scheduled for Saturdays.
“It’s a seven-day operation,” Stevens said.
But while Logan, Allison and the rest of their Geckos teammates prepared to take the field against Kevin Brown Construction — eager to get the season underway — their coach reminded them of what the season was really about.
“We’re going to use these games to learn,” Jimmy Newton said. “I don’t care if we win this game or not.”
Founded nearly a decade ago, the league has been home to hundreds of East County softball players — many of which have gone on to play softball at Braden River and Lakewood Ranch High Schools and beyond.
Through its spring and fall recreational seasons, the Miss Manatee Softball League provides girls of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to play softball while learning about good sportsmanship and having fun at the same time.
“I like that all of my friends are here,” Logan said. “It doesn’t matter if we win or lose — it’s just about having fun.”
Additionally, for those who are interested in furthering their development, the league is also affiliated with the SunCoast Storm travel ball teams.
“It’s more about teaching them to play softball than about winning and losing,” Jimmy Newton said. “We try to teach them good sportsmanship and how to handle victory and defeat. We want to give them the tools to get to the next level, but we have some girls that are out here purely because it’s fun and social, so we have to be careful how we mix the two.
“It’s a lot of work, but I don’t think there’s anything more rewarding,” he added.
For more information on the Miss Manatee Softball League, including a complete listing of upcoming games, visit its Web site at www.missmanateesoftball.org.
Contact Jen Blanco at email@example.com.
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