Fast-pitch softball league formed by 5 youth clubs

PLAYING AROUND

April 15, 2001|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

GIRLS FROM five of Howard County's six youth sports organizations will compete this spring in a new fast-pitch league - for four age groups - set up by the county Department of Recreation and Parks. These will be rec-level leagues; travel teams from the groups will compete, as always, elsewhere.

"It keeps teams in the smaller clubs from having to play one another four or five times a season," said Rec and Parks sports coordinator Mike Milani.

Milani didn't say it, but rec-level softball, which has felt pressure for years in this county from soccer, has in the past several years experienced even more player-drain because of female athletes opting for lacrosse. The Howard County Lacrosse Program saw girls' enrollment jump this spring to nearly 700, up from 625 a year ago, with most of the increase in the younger ages.

It's safe to say that colleges dangle more lacrosse scholarships in central Maryland than grants for softball - a lure that tantalizes parents but affects far fewer athletes than most even suspect.

Anyway, clubs participating in the new Howard County Softball Alliance, Milani said, are the Atholton Youth Recreation Association, the Savage Boys and Girls Club, the Elkridge Youth Organization, Western Howard County Youth Baseball and Softball, and the Columbia YouthBaseball Association. Each will enter teams in leagues in these age groups: 8-, 10-, 12-, and 14 and under.

The Howard County Youth Program, which still has enough rec teams to run its own leagues, will stay in touch with the Alliance for possible future participation, Milani said.

Youth baseball

This will be the second year of Howard County Baseball Alliance, which Milani helped orchestrate a year ago, with all six organizations entering rec-level teams in a 15-17 league. For 13-14s, only CYBA has enough teams to play its own schedule; all other youth groups will go the Alliance route. But CYBA, which has seven 13-14 teams, will also experience Alliance play, with its teams filling out Columbia schedules.

Gymnastics

Grant Regelin and Elie Sollins, both from Columbia's Top-Flight Gymnastics, qualified for USA Gymnastics' Boys Junior Olympic National Championships in Minneapolis on May 2-6. They were two of four Maryland boys from the Region 7 title meet in Allentown, Pa., to qualify.

Gravity racing

Ryan Harrigan, the River's Edge14-year-old whose tryout for USA Luge's national training program we wrote about in early February, wasn't chosen to participate this year. But in Winston-Salem, N.C., this weekend, with a new, larger car (he outgrew last year's), Ryan continues his soap-box car racing - he ranked seventh nationally a year ago.

Cyberplay

Rec and Parks has added a nice feature to one of its two quality Web sites - names and contacts, by phone and e-mail addresses, for most of Howard County's amateur sports organizations. You'll also find links to club Web sites (remember, not all have them).

Check out www.hcrpsports.com. Click on `Youth Sports' down low on the Web page's left side. This is the same Web site Rec and Parks opened last year for scheduling and providing standings for its adult teams and leagues.

Running

The Howard County Striders' 23rd Clyde's American 10 kil- ometer race starts at 8 a.m. next Sunday at the pedestrian bridge over Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia's Town Center. Information on the Striders' Web site or on the club's phone system: 410-964- 1998.

8th-graders, be aware

If you're finishing middle school or are the parent of an eighth-grader who wants to play sports as a high school freshman this fall, Kevin Leonard, Hammond High's JV football coach, is passing along advice based on a couple of visits to schools feeding Hammond.

For the first time, athletes entering high school this fall will need to leave middle school academically eligible to play. That means having a year-end grade point average of 2.0 with no Es, which has been the public high school policy for several years.

Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or address e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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