Excitement for minor baseball as spring registration opens for the South Okanagan

Hey batter, batter swing!

Spring ball registration has opened in the South Okanagan, with a strong hope to see the kids getting into local play and games for the upcoming season.

Kevin Castelone, president of the South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association (SOMBA), said that numbers are already looking good.

“We are getting a bit of enrolment, our numbers aren't quite what they were last year you know, pre-covid, but it's pretty encouraging and we've had a good turnout for winter ball this year too,” he said.

“I expect we're gonna see a lot of kids joining up since everyone's dying to get outside again and get moving again in kids’ sports.”

Last year at the start of the pandemic, the teams were shut down until phase two back to play allowed for small groups of ten players and two coaches to host practices again.

Slowly, the teams were allowed full-squad practices. Then in phase three, games could be played in a small cohort, with pods of four teams in four cities playing each other.

“We're governed by BC Minor Ball and also governing bodies that are Baseball BC. ViaSport controls all the regulations and restrictions for all sports,” Castelone explained.

“We've had no issues, no exposures really so the organization, like others going through this for the first time, we have really pulled it off.”

The high-performance college prep team already has had their meeting for the spring season with a pre-emptive schedule set up, barring anything going wrong.

Their Bantam U-15 team will also be hosting a tryout in late March.

“We're seeing some really good enthusiasm, the coaches are awesome, the kids are enjoying being out there.”

If Spring ball gets the green light if restrictions are eased, teams would see the fields open April 1, with the season starting around that first week continuing through until June.

“It's been a great success so I'm really hoping it will open and be like it'll go back to the way it was in phase three, which allowed us to play games in small cohorts in the community,” Castelone said, adding that doesn't include tournaments or overnights again yet.

If restrictions were not lifted by the time spring ball starts, the teams would remain at the current practice-only stage with full teams and coaches maintain social distancing, masks and practice stations.

“We would redesign the registration fee, offering some sort of refund,” he explained, since the current fee includes field, umpire and uniform costs.

“We're planning on having a great season, got some great coaches and we're really enthused to get the kids out there, running around and having some fun this spring. That's the plan right now and Im really confident that we'll get there.”

Castelone has also put in an application for Penticton to host provincial’s for the AAA Bantam level team.

“This would be really exciting because Penticton's never hosted a provincial championship before.”

It’s been a goal of his to put Penticton on the map as a venue to host championships and major tournaments.

“With everything, there is to do here, the weather, the lakes, the wineries and breweries for the parents after a long day at the field.”

Registration for Spring Baseball is open now until March 15, from T-Ball to Midget divisions, which can be found online here.

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