It was way too cold and way too windy to think about playing baseball and softball, but that didn’t stop 11-year-old Kayleen Carranza from showing up with her mother Wednesday night at Ian Deutch Memorial Park to get registered for the upcoming Little League season.
“I’ve been watching my brother play for a long time,” she said, adding that she never had played organized softball before. But there she was, trying to keep warm while her mom paid her registration fee.
“My dad played baseball, so I want to ask him if he can show me some pointers,” Carranza added.
That’s the kind of sentiment that’s music to the ears of Pahrump Valley Little League president Caroline Thacker, especially as the organization is adding softball for the first time. A big reason for that is giving girls — and their parents — an option to play competitively without having to drive to Las Vegas several times each week.
“If we can keep it local, that alleviates the travel commitment for the parents,” Thacker said/ “They have one kid playing baseball here, they have a daughter playing softball. How are they supposed to be in two places in the same weekend?
“We already do T-ball and rookies that are coed anyway, so now from minors up to juniors we’ll take on softball.”
Softball will follow the baseball structure, said Thacker, who hopes to have three softball teams in each division.
“T-ball and rookies are coed with baseball,” she explained. “Then we have Double-A minors, Triple-A minors, majors and juniors, and the range in age is from 7 up to 14. Even a 15-year-old can come and play with us.”
Participation was not a problem last year for baseball.
“Last year we had 376 players,” Thacker said. “We had three junior teams, five major teams, four Triple-A teams, four Double-A teams, and I believe there were nine rookie teams and eight or nine T-ball teams.”
That’s a lot of young baseball players, but not everyone has warmed up to the idea of playing softball under the Pahrump Valley Little League umbrella.
“It’s been mixed,” Thacker said of the response. “Some of the older girls are concerned about competition. They’re used to playing the competition in Vegas.
“But I think people are coming around to the idea. Once we start talking to people and get their questions answered, they seem to be much more receptive to it.”
As with anything new, it could take time for everyone to accept PVLL softball. One thing that is not new is that players are in no rush to sign up, and the numbers reflect that.
”They’re still a little low,” Thacker said. “We’re attributing some of that to kids are still playing other sports, so they have to wrap up those sports before they commit to another one. We do see this every year. We’re about half of where we usually are once we start the season. We’re looking for about 100, 150 players.”
In the past, people have come out on Opening Day to sign up their kids, Thacker said, and while they will not turn away anyone even at that late date, that is not the ideal situation.
“Realistically, we would like them to be signed up by the last week of February,” she said. “That’s when we do our drafts. For our competitive divisions, the minors up through juniors, the sooner they get registered they are guaranteed a spot on a team through the draft. The risk is if they aren’t drafted, then they potentially go on a waiting list, and we don’t want that to have to happen. We want to field teams from the get-go.”
Another factor that seems to be having an effect on registrations is PVLL’s new online mechanism for registering players.
“We went all digital this year,” Thacker explained. “It’s new, and people are creatures of habit. They don’t love the idea of change, so we are backtracking a bit and accepting paper registrations.”
There are two more tryout sessions scheduled, 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 23. Except they’re not really tryouts.
“They have shifted from tryouts to evaluations,” Thacker said. “Everybody who signs up, who shows interest in playing baseball, will be placed on a team. The drafts are the last week of February.”
Practices begin March 1, with opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. March 23, Thacker said. Play starts that week and runs through Memorial Day weekend. Then, it’s all-star season.
For online registration and more information, visit www.pahrumplittleleague.com
Pahrump Valley Little League
Baseball and softball
Fees: T-Ball $105, Rookies $110, Minors/Majors $125, Juniors $135.
Payments: 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 23 at Ian Deutch Memorial Park.
Online payment option available at www.pahrumplittleleague.com
New players must furnish a copy of their birth certificate