SCC softball booming as season kicks off

New Wednesday league for more experienced players 

KEVIN BRADY PHOTOS
Bob Hall, second from right, with several members of the new SCC advanced softball league, many of whom have been playing baseball or softball for decades. Many of the advanced league players also play in the SCC Softball recreational league.

By KEVIN BRADY

A corn field served as the Sun City Center Softball’s field of dreams in 1980, its first unofficial season.

Opening day next Friday, Oct. 20, features an infield designed by Major League Baseball experts, an electronic scoreboard, more players than ever — almost 150 will play this fall — and a new advanced league for more experienced players.

“It’s successful because we have done a lot to upgrade the field with the cooperation of the (Sun City Center) Community Association,” said Doug Seipelt, the league’s president. “We have a brand-new infield over the last three years, dugouts, bleachers and the field is just gorgeous, at least for the first game,” Seipelt joked. “I have a lot of guys who bought homes here just because they knew they could play softball. If you have played ball all your life and you retire it’s a pretty nice benefit to be able to act like you are 16 again. We are also a very welcoming club for players (of all levels).”

The league has four seasons a year; spring (February to April), summer (April to October), fall (October to December) and winter (January to February). Winter is typically the most popular with 170 to 190 players. Team rosters, usually 11 to 12 players, are filled in an NFL-style draft with each player ranked based on their ability. A manager might pick first when it comes selecting a catcher, but he may have the last pick in the next round when it comes to choosing a pitcher. The most popular first picks are invariably shortstops who need a good arm and the ability to field. “The draft is based on the managers knowing the players,” said Seipelt who has been playing SCC softball for 11 years.

New this year is a Wednesday league for more experienced players. “They will play with a little harder ball and are younger players with a different skill set than our players who are 75 and 80,” Seipelt said.

“The advanced league allows players with better skills to play in a more competitive league,” said Bob Hall, one of 44 players expected to be drafted into one of the advanced league’s four teams. Those who are not drafted — and almost 60 have applied — will still have a chance to play in other leagues. “We can’t wait to get started,” Hall said.

Nancy Robinson, one of about 10 women who play in the league, connects as the third baseman watches the ball. “I’ve played softball since high school. The people are special (in the SCC league),” she said.

Karen Sellers, 76, never got to play softball as a youngster. “I had two brothers who played baseball, and I always wanted to play but they didn’t have it for girls (when she was a teen) but I love it.” One of only two women in the league a decade ago, there are around 10 today. Sellers said female players are weclomed. “(The men) are pretty good to us,” she said with a laugh. “They are happy to see us get on and do something good.”

Camaraderie is the appeal for Wes Stickatt, at 87 one of the league’s oldest players who has been rounding the bases in Sun City since 1991. “I came down and heard they had softball, and just signed up. It wasn’t anything like (the facilities) we have now (when he started).  I just like being around the guys and playing.”

Doug Seipelt, president of the SCC Softball League, center, is joined by two of the league’s oldest players, Al Goodyear, right, and Wes Stickatt, both a spry 87. Goodyear didn’t start playing softball until he was 61. “It’s about fitness and camaraderie. I’ve known so many guys out here for a long time.”

Opening-day ceremonies with guests, dignitaries and refreshments are scheduled for 8:30 a.m., Friday, Oct. 20, at the softball field behind the tennis courts at the SCC South Campus on Weatherfold Drive off South Pebble Beach Boulevard. The first pitch follows the ceremonies. Games are seven innings, running one hour 15 minutes on average and are played Tuesdays and Fridays beginning at 9 a.m. running through the late afternoon.

The advanced league starts Wed., Oct. 25.

For more information visit the softball association’s website, www.suncitycentersoftball.org.

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