SYAA starts new softball program

Published 8:56 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Members of the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association’s new 6U Shetland League team, the SY Diamonds, will get early exposure to softball thanks to the formation of the new program.

The Suffolk Youth Athletic Association has created a new recreational youth-softball program called 6U Shetland League, with the announcement of the very first team, the SY Diamonds.

The 6U Shetland League softball program is focused on instructing new and beginning girl players between the ages of 4 and 6. This “girls-only” league will be similar to a T-ball-style environment, with players batting from a stationary “T” and using a regulation-sized “safety” softball.

The SY Diamonds, sponsored by Monarch Bank, have planned an inaugural season of 11 games throughout the 8-week fall season. The SY Diamonds took their team name from National Pro-Fastpitch softball team, Carolina Diamonds, with social media sites like Twitter and FaceBook spawning a connected interest between the two ‘Diamonds’ teams.

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The SY Diamonds are the first 6U Shetland Softball team at SYAA. The 12 players currently on the team are Mishaila Briggs, Katherine Conrod, Samantha Dillard, Taylor J., Addison McCulloch, Abigail Morean, Danasia Murrell, Londyn Plummer, Jennifer Pollard, Julia Pollard, Rosyln Rotan and Piper Vick.

SY Diamonds Head Coach Mischelle Goodman says the program was developed to get the recreation girls playing softball at an earlier age at SYAA.

“Up until now, SYAA only offered mixed-gender T-ball for players who were 4, 5 or 6 years old,” she said. “Once they turned 7 years old and age-eligible for coach-pitch leagues, they were separated into two different sports — softball for girls and baseball for boys.”

By separating the girls into their own Shetland age-league, the girl players can develop skills specific to softball at an earlier age and make the transition to coach-pitch easier.

“Softball is not baseball for girls,” said David Goodman. “Softball is a much different game than baseball and requires girl players to learn vastly different skills than boy baseball players, especially hitting, pitching, and defensive plays.”

The most obvious difference between the two sports is the ball that is used, and Goodman explained how that difference translates into different skills.

“Softball players have to quickly learn to throw a larger ball than baseball players, so the sooner we can get the girls used to it, the faster they learn how to throw and catch properly and safely,” he said.

SYAA is an all-volunteer recreation association and the parents of the SY Diamond players have been a great help in getting the program started, officials said.

The successful start of the 6U Shetland program at SYAA is also due in part to two other PONY-sanctioned recreation leagues in the area, Smithfield Recreation Association and Holland Athletic Association.

Each of these associations started a girls 6U Shetland League program this season, as well, and will play against the SY Diamonds during the fall 2012 season through late October. In conjunction with SYAA, Smithfield Recreation Association and Holland Athletic Association will host games during the season for the 6U Shetland League.