'Tis the season of soccer, softball

Summer rec sports around the corner

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Ball Busters shortstop Chris Ward tags out a runner headed to second base during recreation league softball last summer. With summer just around the corner, softball players and soccer players are gearing up for a new season.

— Tighter bat regulations, and the ability for men to play in both the men's A & B leagues top the list of changes softball players can expect this summer.

"The biggest change this season is going to be our stricter bat regulations," said Kit Rice, Parks & Recreational Services sports coordinator. "In the past we've used the USSSA (United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association) rules, but we are going to the stricter ASA (Amateur Softball Association) rules this season."

Rice said this means bats listed on the ASA nonapproved bat list will no longer be allowed in local league games this summer, The list includes more than 50 bats from 13 manufactures. A complete list can be found at www.asasoftball.com/about/build_batlist.asp, and if players have any specific questions, they can contact the City's Parks and Recreational Services department at 879-4300.

Rice is hoping by restricting some high performance bats, where the ball leaves the bat at a rate of speed deemed unsafe by ASA standards, the leagues will be safer for everyone playing.

She isn't sure that the bats were responsible for an increased number of injuries last summer, but said the leagues are making the move to stricter bat standards for the safety of the players.

Rice said the combination of adult softball and soccer make the summer season the busiest of the year for her department. The softball leagues include more than 40 teams playing two games each week. The soccer league features another 16 teams playing one game a week.

"We have a lot of people who play in our fall and winter leagues, but summer is still the most popular," Rice said.

This year, league coordinator Melanie McDaniels will take the lead role for the city's six adult softball leagues, which range from men's A to coed D. Rice said the leagues will begin June 4, and she expects them to be very popular again this summer.

Other than a few rule changes, Rice said the softball leagues in Steamboat should look very similar to last summer. She expects to have eight teams in men's A, 12 to 13 teams in men's B, and six women's team. The coed leagues, which remain the most popular, will continue to be divided into three leagues

The deadline for team captains to register their team is May 9. Fees (both player and sponsor) range from $890 for a men's A team to $510 for a women's team.

The differences in price depend on the league's playoff format, the tie-breaking system and number of games played during the season. The women's league, which has fewer teams, plays fewer games in the course of a season than the higher priced men's A and men's B leagues.

But softball isn't the only game in town.

Parks and recreational services also offers an adult coed soccer league in the summer.

Last year, 16 teams played a nine-week season on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Rice expects the league to be about the same size this year with play beginning May 22.

The deadline for fees in both the adult softball and soccer leagues is 5 p.m. May 9.

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