As a former recreation-league softball coach and adult player, I have always had a passion for the game. So, in my position as program coordinator for Bedford County in Virginia, I thought there might be enough interest to create a senior adult team. After calling some folks who used to play, we advertised in local newspapers, and scheduled the first meeting and practice in April 2004.
Laying Down The Rules
The first order of business was to set the rules, many of which revolved around safety. For example, sliding and stealing bases were not permitted. Additionally, there must be two first bases and two home plates. The first bases are side by side. The batter runs to the outside bag while the first baseman uses the regular base. At home plate, the plates are about 10 feet apart. The runner goes to the extra plate. If the runner touches that plate before the catcher has the ball at the regular home plate, then the runner is safe. The catcher does not have to tag the runner, but must have his foot on home plate for an out. A batter may also request a courtesy runner.
A Team Effort
In the first year, 15 players made up the roster. The team continued to include new players each year as word spread about the program, and eventually had its current number of 25 players. The group of teachers, bus drivers, sales people, medical professionals, mechanics, retirees and many more gathers every Tuesday for practice or a ball game. Fifteen to 18 people show up each week, and everyone plays. The teams are comprised of mostly men, but there are four or five women who play each season. One woman drives one hour each way from another county to play. It’s a diverse group, but when they put on the uniforms and cleats, they’re all just softball players.
Sizing Up Opponents
Since there aren’t any other senior teams in the county, games are scheduled with adult and church league teams, as well as a YMCA-sponsored team from a nearby town once or twice a month. The latter team members have been playing together for years and are really tough to beat. To stretch the skills and abilities of our team, we challenge a young team from a nearby locale. We’ve managed to beat them a few times (with luck). There have never been any serious problems or issues, other than some players being a little too competitive, but they are reminded that the league is for fun, as there are no standings or playoffs. As one of the biggest sluggers says, “It’s just great to be on a ball field.”
Start Your Own
To start a team, designate a field to play on (the smaller, the better). Advertise in local newspapers, among senior groups, by word of mouth, etc. Most ball players know others who will be interested, and word will spread. Set a date and time to meet with some rules to play by, and determine any fees. We charge a $10 fee per season to buy team shirts.
Lana Obenchain is the program coordinator for Bedford County in Virginia. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Softball Rules
1. There is no stealing of bases.
2. There is no sliding.
3. There are two first bases–the hitter/runner runs to an orange rubber base while the first baseman uses the regular base.
4. Innings consist of three outs or five runs scored, except for the last inning, in which all three outs must be made.
5. The runner coming home runs to an orange plate, which is approximately 10 feet from the regular home plate. The catcher must catch the ball while in contact with home plate before the runner touches his orange plate to make an out.
6. The pitcher may pitch from any safe distance.
7. The strike zone is the entire plate (extended).
8. The arc on the ball must be between 6 and 10 feet high.
9. Additional outfielders may be used, but both teams must have an equal number.
10. Only two homeruns over the fence are allowed per game. More than two will be counted as outs.
11. Batters get three balls or two strikes.