CHATSWORTH — Youth summer league baseball at the Murray County Recreation Department complex is outgrowing the facilities, and Paul Veraldi couldn’t be happier.

“We continue to grow and we’ve got 20 teams this year from all over Murray and Whitfield counties,” Veraldi said Thursday night while keeping an eye on four games going on simultaneously. “This baseball is fun while at the same time very competitive. It allows the kids to see other kids they don’t run into during the recreation seasons.”

A total of eight games were scheduled Thursday, the second night of the summer league. The 20 teams play eight games each plus a postseason tournament.

“I wish we had more fields,” Veraldi said. “I think we could have 40 teams in this league if we had enough fields. We can’t wait to get our new facility open, which we hope to do in the spring.”

A sizable crowd representing teams playing 6:30 p.m. games Thursday had gathered at the recreation complex, but most people stayed in their cars until a rain storm skirted the area. When the rain stopped they flocked to the stands and fields and play got under way.

Steve Granger coaches the 9-year-old Thunder, a select team considered one of the best in the summer league.

Granger uses the summer league to focus on coaching fundamentals to his players.

“Things like fielding and just getting them some at-bats,” Granger said. “We’ll play eight games, play twice a week and go for about three and a half weeks. Then we’ll play the postseason tournament.

“I think any time you can get these kids on the field in game situations, it’s good for them.”

During the select season, Granger said rules allow his players to play under modifield high school rules. Runners teams can take leads. In summer league, they must remain on the base until the pitch passes the hitter.

Granger’s Thunder opened with a 2-1 win over the 10-under Thunder.

“The competition here is not what we’re used to playing against, but it’s still good for the boys to play,” said Granger, who coaches baseball at Gladden Middle School. “Overall, this league is good for teams from both counties.”

Kip Allen, a veteran youth coach, has been bringing teams to Murray’s summer league for four or five years. His Grasshoppers jumped into a 7-0 lead after just one inning Thursday.

“I like coming over here,” Allen said. “It’s a little more laid back. You can experiment with players at different positions, work with pitchers and I like the relaxed atmosphere. It gets a little more heated for the postseason tournament.”

Veraldi says the summer league reminds him of the relaxed atmosphere of big-league spring training.

Some might wonder why not give the youngsters a little down time before school begins, but Allen says summer baseball is a great opportunity to keep the kids active.

“Without this baseball they’d be laying on the couch watching TV and waiting for football to start,” he said. “It’s a good extension of the recreation season. I wish Whitfield County would do this.”

The teams play six-inning games with time limits of 1 hour, 20 minutes for younger teams and 1 hour, 45 minutes for the older teams. Teams range is age from 9 to 12, although there are some 8-year-old boys “playing up,” Veraldi said.

React to this story:


Recommended for you