AP NEWS

Sun Cities softball league back at it for fall-winter season

October 26, 2016 GMT

It’s time for the fall guys — and girls.

The Sun Cities Senior Softball Association begins its fall-winter season Monday with three leagues and 40 teams set to play in the opening week.

Players participate in softball for a variety of reasons, said Bob Peck, committee chair for the American League.

“Some guys really love the competitiveness,” said Mr. Peck. “Others enjoy the exercise as well as the participation and competitiveness.

“Still others love to just come out to play and enjoy the camaraderie among the participants.

“A lot of friendships have been formed because of senior softball.”

The leagues play games at Sun Bowl Field, 107th and Clair in Sun City, and Liberty Field, 14401 R.H. Johnson Blvd. in Sun City West.

Players are placed in one of three leagues based on their skill levels.

The American League features the players with the highest skill level; the Central League represents the next level of talent; while the National League rounds out the field.

“We used to have just two leagues, but several years ago we decided to divide into three leagues,” said Mr. Peck, who has played in the Sun Cities league for eight years.

“I think it has made for more competitive play in each league and also improved safety among players because they are placed in the proper setting.”

Prospective players must try out before being placed in a league.

After they receive a league designation, they are drafted by one of the 40 managers in the league.

The Sun Cities softball teams also have always featured a number of female players and this year is no different.

There will be approximately 30 women scattered among the various teams.

“I would say 95 percent of the men or more accepted me when I first started playing,” said Margaret Morgan, who began playing Sun Cities softball 10 years ago.

“That percentage is probably even higher today.”

Senior softball is not just a Sun Cities phenomenon.

Based on information from Senior Softball-USA, there are more than 1.5 million active senior softball players.

That number is expected to grow as more Baby Boomers come into the market.

Softball is the No. 1 men’s team sport in America with approximately 21 percent of the male populace participating.

Softball is also one of the few sports in America which has achieved near parity in the numbers of men and women participating, according to Senior Softball-USA.

Mr. Peck said the participation numbers have remained steady through the years in the Sun Cities.

“As some players give up the game because of injuries and age, new and younger players move into the community,” he said.

Ms. Morgan said many of the new arrivals are more skilled and in better physical conditions than those same arrivals 10 years ago.

“I think more people play softball throughout their adult years than used to,” said Ms. Morgan, who also serves on a committee in the National League.

“They just don’t start playing softball when they retire and move to Sun City.”

There’s also more focus on healthy lifestyles among all seniors these days, she said.

“I know a lot of players have multiple activities to stay in shape,” said Ms. Morgan, who also bikes and hikes.