BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — Maumee Little League scored a huge victory with a late-inning rally last week as 50 players took advantage of the extended registration deadline to sign up for the 2022 baseball season.
Little League officials voiced concern last week when the 2022 player registration total dropped from an average of over 250 kids in recent years to just 160 as of February 14.
The Maumee Little League board decided last week to extend the registration deadline until midnight this past Saturday. The extension worked. As of Monday morning, a total of 210 kids have now signed up to play Maumee Little League baseball this spring.
With the previous total of 160, there were only enough kids available to play on two teams in the 11-12-year-old major division and two teams in the 9-10-year-old minor division. This was discouraging news for the league.
Luckily, 50 players stepped up to the plate last week and delivered a clutch hit, breathing new life into the league.
Encouraged by the surge in registrations, the Maumee Little League board met on Sunday night and conjured up some inspired adjustments for the league this season.
First, they decided to add 10-year-old players to the ranks of the major division players, creating a new 10-11-12-year-old major division.
With this new division in place and 45 players of that age group signed up, Maumee Little League will now be able to field four teams instead of just two. There is still room for three additional players to join the league, since an ideal team consists of 12 players.
“Maumee Little League had a 10-11-12-year-old league for years,” stated Maumee Little League treasurer Ron Hoag, who has played, volunteered or coached in Maumee Little League for decades.
“Over the years, as more and more kids played in Maumee Little League, the major division had enough 11-12-year-olds to field multiple teams, and the 10-year-olds joined up with the 9-year-olds to form the minor division,” Hoag explained.
Once the current Maumee Little League board became aware of that precedent, they embraced the concept of adding the 10-year-olds to the major division for 2022 in the spirit of improving the quality of play, thus making it more fun for the kids.
After the decision on adjusting the major league was made, it became easier for the board to make a few adjustments to the younger divisions as a means to field more teams and make the league more challenging and fun.
For instance, the former 9-10-year-old division will now consist of 8-9-year-olds who will have player-pitch this season. Last year, when the kids were in the 7-8-year-old division, it was all coach-pitch, so the players will all be on the same level learning the new player-pitch method.
Under a proposal being considered for the 2022 season, the players in this division will be allowed to pitch to the opposing batters until the count reaches four balls. Then, instead of a wild pitcher issuing a walk to the batter, a parent will step in, take the mound and pitch to the batter for the remainder of the at-bat until he or she makes contact and puts the ball into play.
Under this proposal, there will be no base stealing past third base. A runner will only be able to score on a ball put into play by a teammate. The dreaded base on balls will not exist in this league, which will provide a faster pace designed to let the kids have fun playing baseball while learning to field, hit and run the bases.
As of Monday, 50 players in this age group have signed up, which is enough for five 10-player teams. Each team has two extra openings available on their rosters in the event that more players sign up.
The 6-7-year-old league had 54 players signed up as of Monday. This league is strictly coach-pitch and there are enough players for five teams. Late sign-ups could push that to six teams.
The tee ball league is made up of 4-5-year-olds and there are 38 players signed up as of Monday. This league welcomes late registration, so there will be at least four teams playing in 2022. There is a great need for volunteer coaches in this league and in the 6-7-year-old division.
The senior league consists of players between the ages of 13 and 15. Presently, there are 16 kids signed up with room for another six to eight kids to sign up. Sixteen kids could play on one Maumee team, but it would be more desirable to have two teams with 12 players each. Maumee teams in this league play against teams in other communities.
Now that there are enough kids signed up to have a functional league, the Maumee Little League board has decided to extend the registration deadline one last time in an effort to round out some of the rosters by filling the few remaining openings for players.
Tryouts for the older kids take place in early March, so league officials have set the final player registration deadline for Sunday, February 27 at midnight. Coaches will draft the players for their teams shortly after the tryouts are held.
Parents may sign up their children by visiting www.maumeelittleleague.com and filling out the registration form. Players must reside in Maumee or Monclova Township to be eligible for Maumee Little League.
Practices are held in March and April, and the season usually begins on the final Saturday in April and ends in late June with league playoffs.