Coordinator hopes to make softball leagues stronger

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Informing teams that there is no room in the city's coed C softball league is a rite of spring for Christina Freeman.

By reorganizing the leagues this spring, she hopes to bring an end to that problem and create more room and more equitable competition for lower-level teams.

Each year, the recreational coordinator for Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services must tell several potential teams that they will not get to play because of space.

She also has been forced to put inexperienced teams in the most competitive coed league in the city, which was often the only league with room available for them.

The restructuring plan, which includes establishing a seven-team co-ed D league and other important details will be explained during the annual organizational meeting, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 12 at the Community Center.

"We are making these changes to better accommodate those teams who are denied entry into coed C annually because the league is full," Freeman said. "In the past, these teams have been faced with the option of not playing or joining the coed B league. Historically, the teams that were forced into the higher league were not as competitive."

The city began exploring the idea of reformatting the leagues in November.

Of the 27 teams contacted, only four commented about the planned change, and only one team opposed the idea.

Freeman hopes adding a new level of coed play will enable more residents to enter the league at lower levels, where they are more comfortable.

She said that when teams are forced to play at the wrong level, they end up frustrated and usually drop out of the softball leagues after just one year.

Freeman said it also is frustrating for the higher-level teams that are looking for a more consistent level of play each week to face teams that should be in a lower level.

The coed B league will continue to play Tuesdays at Howelsen Hill.

The five teams that finished in the bottom of the league last season will move down to coed C or coed D, depending on which level best suits the team's ability. The remaining eight teams will make up the league.

The coed C league will continue to play Thursday evenings and will be limited to 15 teams, including the top teams from 2004 and the new "B" level teams that are dropping down.

The coed D league will play games Tuesday evenings. The league will be anchored by the four teams that finished in the bottom part of the coed C league last season and teams that were turned away in 2004 because of the lack of space.

Freeman said she would try to fit new teams into the system where space is available, hopefully in the division that best suits each team.

The city also offers men's A, men's B and women's leagues. Freeman expects these leagues to remain unchanged in 2005.

"Ultimately, we believe these changes better serve the softball-playing community as a whole and address the greater need for more space in the less competitive leagues," she said.

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