Junior baseball across our region is expected to enjoy another growth spurt in 2016, with the advent of a new initiative – Midlands Little League Baseball.
First attempts to revive a junior league format in the region can be traced back to two years ago, when efforts we made to capitalise on an increasing number of junior players in Leicester and Nottingham. Unfortunately, neither of the individual clubs had sufficient infra-structure in place to capitalise on this and Leicester Blue Sox instead switched their emphasis towards re-growing participation with the club setting.
Two years later and the Blue Sox have a record number of
juniors actively playing baseball across a range of age groups, with the main
concentration of new activity happening in the u11 and u15 age bandings.
Close to 20 players have already have signed up for the 2016 season and a decision has been made to re-form a regional Little League in order to maximise participation and most importantly minimise travel.
Leicester Blue Sox will roster their u11/u15 players (subject to a minimum age of 8) to two teams, using the recently announced interclub branding of ‘Saints’ and ‘Dragons’. With youth participation also growing at our affiliate Northants Centurions, it is hoped a third team can be added to this regional league in the near future.
Additionally, the league will act as a growth hub for youth baseball across the region, providing a framework and pathway for other adult baseball clubs in the Midlands to enrol into the league, either in part or full.
The main emphasis of the league will be development and flexibility. As a region, junior baseball is someway behind the top programmes in and around London and our intention isn't to compete with that and instead develop at our own pace.
Initially, all Midlands Little League games will be hosted at Western Park, Leicester but there will be capacity to move the show on the road to Northants when their new field is ready later this season and also organise exhibition games at places like Long Eaton, Stourbridge, Birmingham and Nottingham to help kick start their own programmes.
Efforts have been made to ensure the league game rules are simplified and inclusive to new participants, who may initially be challenged with the complexities of pitching etc.
An outline schedule of games at Western Park has been developed as per below. Specific dates/times will be firmed-up shortly. Night games will be single-headers played on Thursday evening and day games will be double-headers played on Saturdays
Saturday 7 May (double-header)
Thursday 12 May (single-header)
Saturday 21 May (double-header)
Thursday 26 May (single-header)
Total games = 6
Thursday 2 June (single-header)
Saturday 4 June (double-header)
Thursday 9 June (single-header)
Thursday 16 June (single-header)
Total games = 5
Thursday 7 July (single-header)
Total games = 1
Saturday 20 August (double-header)
Thursday 25 August (single-header)
Total games = 3
Total number of games scheduled = 15 (7 single headers night, 4 double headers day)
Proposed game rules:
• Games will be 4 innings
• Pitch count 60 pitches or 2 innings
• If pitcher does not get all 3 outs in an inning by the 30th pitch, coach pitch mops up
• 5 run limit per inning for first three innings
• Umpire discretion run limit/open for final inning
• Coach will umpire games (situated near pitchers mound not behind plate, to enable in-game coaching and relief pitching), at least 1-2 parents per team needed to run benches, count pitches, keep score
We are also looking to modify the above format for Little Sox under 11, who will play games alternate fortnightly on Sundays.
Current modifications being considered:
• 3 inning games
• 3 run limit
• 40 pitch limit on the day
• coach pitch mops up after 20 pitches
• safety 1B bag
• smaller minimum number of players per team (as less plays in outfield)
We of course would be delighted from would-be new players aged 8-14 who would be interested in playing in the new league. The more players we can recruit, the more teams we can form and the more baseball will be played!
You can notify us of your interest via: