4-H starts baseball and softball seasons

BALDWIN — It's beginning to look at lot like baseball in the Baldwin area.

The Lake County MSU extension office is having its 4-H baseball and softball spring training this week at Hollister Park. Tryouts continue Thursday and Friday 5:30 p.m. each day.

“This is a unique program to 4-H in general,” said Lake County4-H program coordinator Seth Hopkins. “I think what happened is at one time, 4-H decided to do baseball. I don't know who was doing youth baseball in the county before then. But 4-H decided to take it over.”

In his capacity, “I'm focused on the youth and youth development,” Hopkins said. “That's the focus of any 4-H youth program to build life skills for our youth.”

This year, the formats does not call for playing teams outside the area.

“We're going to keep it in the community,” Hopkins said “Part of our spring training is to see who's coming out so we can start to look at how we can put the teams up. In the past, it's been a travel league, but not this year. This year, we're keeping it local. I think that will help everyone's wallet with gas prices.”

Hopkins admitted there might not be enough turnout for more than one Pony League team.

“What we might do is incorporate that into the Little League teams this year and maybe have those guys be helpers in the (younger) divisions,” Hopkins said. “We'll have to evaluate that this year. I don't want to scare anybody off because we don't have a travel league. This year, depending on the turnout, we'll do the intramural thing which used to happen.

“This is a community-driven program. If we don't get the participation, meaning the volunteers and participants, the children themselves ... hopefully if we get good participation, we can expand our league.”

Games will start officially in June. “We try to make this a summer program,” Hopkins said. “That's why we start so late. This week, we do spring training. Next week we start our practices. In June we'll start out games or something similar to games. We don't go much later until early July. Usually, we'll participate in Troutarama ... and get all the kids together and put them on a float to thank our sponsors.”

Hopkins anticipates handing out trophies at the end of the season.

“In the past they've participated in a travel league and there's been no trophy,” he said. “If we keep it intramural, there will be a trophy.”

For more information, individuals can call (231) 745-2732.

“It's only made possible by volunteers,” Hopkins said. “We have a handful of volunteers who make the program run. They're the ones who do the work when the season starts.”