Long Beach girls softball attracts more than 200 players
By Andy Kanengiser
Team names like the Red Barons and the Mermaids are among the squads signed up for girls softball games in Long Beach this spring.
It’s been an athletic tradition for Long Beach girls on the diamond for more than thirty years in the Friendly City. And the new spring season is set to begin with opening ceremonies on April 24. Practices have begun, and the players, as usual, are excited.
Like just about every organization these days, it never hurts to have extra cash on hand. During the first weekend in March, 23 softball travel teams from Mississippi towns and communities across state lines participated in a Long Beach tournament. Money raised will help the Long Beach Girls Softball League (LBGSL) develop better facilities for their favorite sport.
It’s a league that’s fueled by enthusiastic fans – from parents to grandparents, aunts and uncles. Tryouts began in late February for five-year-old girls on T-Ball squads through teens up to age sixteen. Typically, about 200 to 225 girls sign up for spring softball teams, league officials say.
It’s a popular Mississippi Gulf Coast league that was forced to fold its tent in spring 2020 after a few practices, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But with three COVID-19 vaccines now going to millions of Americans and the nation starting to see encouraging news that coronavirus case numbers will diminish, softball league supporters are hopeful in 2021.
Parents in this vibrant Harrison County community believe girls softball is a solid investment. The fee is $85 for the first child to register for ages 5 through 16. The fee is $80 for the second child.
Once opening day happens on a Saturday in late April, the season will last six weeks. Game days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Make-up games are played on Wednesdays and Fridays, if necessary. The first games begin at 6 p.m.
League President Johnathan Malley and other leaders at headquarters at the Long Beach Recreation Center on Daugherty Road say they are excited as the new season nears. Facilities are being upgraded, and that difference will be noticeable to parents and other fans this spring.
“The fields will look fabulous this year,’’ Malley says. The tournaments hosted in Long Beach, like the one in early March, will bring in money for facilities to make for the best possible experience for the girls, says the Long Beach firefighter.
Malley and other LBGSL officials are proud of the fact that some of these young softball players got their start in the league. Many of them go on to play in high school or in college. It’s also a place where softball coaches develop their instructional and leadership skills on the diamond.
City alderman-at-large Donald Frazer is familiar with the league and its success stories spanning more than three decades.
“The softball league is very popular here, and we have tons of girls that go on to play in high school and in travel ball after learning in our league.’’
Coaches, parents, and fans keep tabs on developments in their league on the league’s Facebook pages. For more information, visit http://LBGSL.com/, or call 228-679-9039.