Rice to take over softball league

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— A familiar face will greet softball players when they return to the Howelsen Hill fields this June.

Longtime resident Kit Rice has accepted the position of league coordinator and will be in charge when the season begins in a few weeks. She will work with Jim Fader, who returns this summer as the head of umpires.

"I just love softball, and Christina (Freeman, of the city's Parks and Recreational Services) has a really good program over here," Rice said.

Since moving to Steamboat, Rice has played in most of the leagues, including women's, coed C and coed B. This summer she will get to see the game from a different perspective.

She has watched a long line of softball coordinators come and go over the years and is hoping her experience will help make the difference this time around.

"It's a difficult job," Rice said. "I used to tell my friends that they couldn't pay me enough money to be the coordinator."

But apparently they can.

Rice took the job, which also includes a position at the Howelsen Ice Arena in the winter, earlier this year.

"I love to play softball and hockey, so this is the perfect job for me," Rice said. "It just seemed too good to pass up."

Rice also works for a radio station as a disc jockey.

She will enter the job with a good understanding of the challenges. She knows that the players will complain from time to time and is willing to listen and work to make the leagues better.

"The players pay a lot of money to play softball here in the summer," Rice said. "We want to make it fun for everyone involved."

She will get her chance to do that next week, when the league sofficially begins practice at Howelsen Hill. The regular season is slated to start the second week of June.

Rice said players should expect a few minor changes this season, but nothing major. The biggest change to the leagues is that a point system similar to the one used in hockey will be implemented. The point system will allow games to end in a tie and hopefully keep the nightly schedule running more smoothly.

She said that if games go the full seven innings or extend past the allotted time with the two teams tied, that's how the game will end. Teams will receive two points for a win, one point for a tie and no points for a loss.

"That's going to be the biggest change this season," Rice said. "It's an attempt to keep the games on schedule each night."

The men's A league, which has six teams this season, will not use the point system. Instead, its has elected to shorten the length of its games in order to allow tie scores to be broken.

Freeman said all of the leagues are full this season with the exception of the women's league. She has two paid teams in that league and will accept new teams up until Friday.

"At that point, we will call the teams and let them decide what they want to do," Freeman said. "They can either play an abbreviated season or give it up all together."

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