The Softball program is actively planning for the upcoming 2016 season and has several new initiatives in mind. First, we’re planning a “Softball Opening Day”, which will involve a combined ceremony including the Hampton and Stratham teams. Following the opening day ceremony, all teams will play a regular season game. It should be an exciting and fun way to start the season! We’re also planning to expand our clinic offerings and all-star programs. Please stay tuned for these and other exciting developments.
Meanwhile, the Softball program is receiving significant interested from dedicated volunteers to help move the program forward. We have held several meetings to exchange ideas and plans for upcoming season. If you are interested in joining the effort, please contact Don Perreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-668-6560. We would love to have you on the team!
EJBSL Softball History
2012 marked the inaugural season of Exeter Softball. The Exeter Junior Baseball League established Exeter Softball with the intention of providing a softball program meeting the quality and standards the community had come to expect from EJBL. It's been so successful that in 2014 the league changed it's official name to the Exeter Junior Baseball and Softball League. Exeter Softball is Babe Ruth Chartered with league boundaries encompassing the same towns as the baseball league (Exeter, Brentwood, Newfields, East Kingston and Kensington).
Our first season saw 86 young ladies take the field in a game schedule against Hampton Babe Ruth Softball with great enthusiasm and success. We fielded 2 teams at a 1-2nd grade level, 3 teams at a 3-5th grade level and 2 teams at the U14 level. Our teams played against 5 teams in each division from Hampton making for a full game schedule. Although we do not measure success solely in terms of wins and losses, teams from Exeter reached the Championship game at both the 3-5th grade and U14 levels. Also, we began laying the ground work for future success by offering two pitching clinics in addition to very well-received clinics with Exeter High School coaches and players.
In our inaugural season faced the problem of not knowing how many players would register with the program, which of course created questions of how many teams we would have and who we would play in a game schedule. Fortunately, we formed a strong and growing relationship with Hampton Babe Ruth Softball and played a game schedule against the Hampton teams. Initial registrations were less than the ultimate number of 86 players, and we found that separating teams into grade-level breakdowns was a convenient way to deal with the numbers. With that approach the league had three levels:
1-2nd grade – 7 teams total (2 Exeter, 5 Hampton)
3-5th grade - 8 teams total (3 Exeter, 5 Hampton)
U14 – 7 teams total (2 Exeter, 5 Hampton)
Ultimately, we ended up with enough players in the program to use traditional U14, U12, U10 and U8 breakdowns which we do today.
We conduct player evaluations after player registration is complete. The purpose of our player evaluation is to establish teams of equal strength. Every registered player makes a team.
Practice and Game Locations
In general, our teams practice and play home games in Exeter and play away games in Hampton or North Hampton. In 2013, our U14 teams practiced and played home games at Exeter High School, our 3-5th grade teams practiced and played home games at the CMS or Exeter High School, and our 1-2nd grade teams practiced and played home games at the CMS or the Exeter Recreation Department fields.
Number of Games
Our teams play a 12 game regular season schedule, with 6 home games and 6 away games. Single elimination playoffs follow the regular season. The playoffs are scheduled to end during the last week of school. We are considering adding additional games to the schedule, but are mindful of achieving a balance between the number of games and the number of practices that allows for skill development and game experience.
Game Play and Pitching
Perhaps the most important factor in the enjoyment of the players and parents is the level of pitching skill at the respective levels. Recognizing the need to develop pitchers and the balance between the difficulties associated with playing games with inexperienced pitchers we have implemented the following approach in our local rules:
U8 – At this level, coaches pitch to players with players allowed to hit from a tee depending on player skill level.
U10 and U12 – At this level, players pitch until a batter has 4 balls. After 4 balls on a batter, a coach pitches to the batter to finish the at bat. Umpires call balls and strikes, but no walks are allowed and no stealing is allowed. Each player either bats their way on base or makes an out by a strike out or defensive play. We believe this approach gives pitchers and batters experience with live pitching while allowing ample opportunity for the batters to hit and the defense to make plays. We have experienced great success with this approach and most games are very competitive.
U14 – At this level, players pitch and steals are allowed.
Skill Development Clinics
Winter Clinic – We are planning a winter clinic in Exeter to provide instruction in all softball skills. Stay tuned for the dates of the winter clinic.
Pitching Clinics – We plan to continue and expand pitching-specific clinics for Exeter players. We hope to continue free division-level clinics, to incorporate pitching instruction into the winter clinic, and to identify an option for individualized instruction.
Exeter High School Clinics – We plan to continue the very successful clinics with Exeter High School players and coaches. These clinics will occur during the playing season, likely following an Exeter High Game.
As a Babe Ruth Chartered Program we have the opportunity for All-Star players to participate in the Babe Ruth Tournament Trail with District, State, Regional and National tournament opportunities. We will have more information about postseason teams as we get closer to the season.
Exeter Softball is always in need of dedicated volunteers to serve as coaches, Board members, etc. If you have an interest in helping out, please let us know.
Very Rough Timeline
The exact dates for softball events will vary from year-to-year. Please check the website at www.exeterbaseball.org for the dates. In general, however, a rough time line is:
Registrations – Jan/Feb
Winter Clinic – Feb/March
Player evaluations – March/April
Practice Begins – April
Games/Practices/Playoffs – April to June (end of School)
All-Star Teams – June-July