BY MICHAEL KELLY
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.
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.”