Youth softball season starts up

From left, teammates Avery Watson, Iris Liu, and Mazzy Russo are shown during an April 25 clinic that started the Niskayuna Girls Softball League season. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)From left, teammates Avery Watson, Iris Liu, and Mazzy Russo are shown during an April 25 clinic that started the Niskayuna Girls Softball League season. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — Building things up is the focus for the Niskayuna Girls Softball League, which is why its opening day event made a lot of sense.

The league began play this past week, but started itself off April 25 with a skills clinic. Fielding, hitting and throwing — the basics — were worked on under the supervision of co-commissioner Becky Mason, who is teamed with co-commissioner Bonnie Teti to help grow softball locally at the youth level. Both started in their roles before last season.

“We’re trying to build it up, kind of like how the boys have it for baseball,” said Teti, who was stationed outside the clinic’s site, the high school’s Blatnick Gymnasium, with uniform tops and visors to hand to the players as they arrived.

“For whatever reason, softball had been a little bit behind,” Mason said.

Co-commissioner Becky Mason is shown during an April 25 clinic that started the Niskayuna Girls Softball League season. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

Co-commissioner Becky Mason is shown during an April 25 clinic that started the Niskayuna Girls Softball League season. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

That recently started to change. The number of girls playing softball in the league’s four divisions — 6U, 8U, 10U, and 15U — has not gone up dramatically during the past few years, but the league is fielding more travel teams. A few years ago, Mason said the league had only one travel team; this year, the league will field a 10U travel team, a pair of 12U travel teams, and a 14U travel team.

“Our numbers aren’t going way up, but the biggest change we see is we have more kids that are sticking with softball because they’re joining the travel,” Mason said.

That change is seen within the makeup of this year’s Niskayuna Girls Softball League, which Teti said is a few shy of 150 total players. While the league’s oldest division has enough players for only three teams, the other three divisions all have four teams and it is the 10U division with the most players — not the 6U division, as one might expect.

Recently, too, the league got a few late sign-ups for the 15U division, helping to provide some depth at that level.

“We were pretty happy about that,” Teti said.

More players means the league will be able to offer more teams and game opportunities to its players, and Mason said making that happen will continue to be a priority for the Niskayuna Girls Softball League.

“We’d definitely like to get more,” said Mason. “We need to get more.”

Audrina Barnard catches a ball during an April 25 clinic that started the Niskayuna Girls Softball League season. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

Audrina Barnard catches a ball during an April 25 clinic that started the Niskayuna Girls Softball League season. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.