The 2008 Youth Girls Softball program, run by the Newton County Recreation Commission, will begin the season with Opening Day ceremonies Saturday at the Turner Lake Complex.
And for those who have yet to visit the complex, they are missing one of the finest facilities, which include four state-of-the-art softball fields.
The softball program has four different leagues with 325 participants. It is run by Jud Hall, athletic coordinator at the Newton County Recreation Commission.
The youngest league is the 6 and under division, which includes five teams. (Opening Day for this league is actually April 14.) It is coach pitch and designed to begin developing the young participants into talented softball players.
The 8 and under league has eight teams and is also coach pitch.
"Some say this is the most exciting league in the Newton County Recreation Girls Softball program," Hall says.
The 10 and under league, which is where the girls begin fast-pitching, has seven teams. According to Hall, in this league the girls do all of the pitching.
"Other recreation departments do a split season, half with pitching machine and half with girls pitching," Hall notes. "Girl pitching is the most exciting and it is a real softball game."
The oldest league is the 14 and under division, which includes eight squads.
"This league is all about fast-pitch softball," Hall says. "In this age group, the recreation department does not have enough girls to have different leagues like 12 and under and a 14 and under. So, to give the girls a chance to play we combine the two leagues."
Unlike boys youth baseball, the softball program does not have an all-star season. Instead, it has an end-of-the-season double elimination tournament.
"Over the years it has become very difficult to find a tournament for the girls to go and play in," Hall reasons. "In all stars, we would be playing against travel teams, not all-star teams. Last year was the first year that we had the end-of-the-season tournament in all age groups, and it was a big success."
The Turner Lake Complex is truly one of the premier softball complexes in the state. Each of the four leagues has their own field.
The 6 and under league uses the Purple field, which is a 200-foot field. The 8 and under league uses the Red field, which is also a 200-foot field. The 10 & under league uses the Gold field (225 feet) and the 14 and under league plays on the Green field (225 feet).
Opening Day at Turner Lake is always an exciting day for the families, coaches, players and staff. Along with Hall, the Newton County Recreation staff includes Ricky Vaughn, Sherman Graves, Barry Johnson, Horace Stroud, James Brown, Arthur Lawrence and Equnoise Martin.