Minor division softball is responsible for youth (18 and under) softball. It is organized into the following age categories (Ages are based on the players age as of December 31 in the year in which the season is played): U18, U16, U14, U12, and U10. Players under the age of 9 can participate in the Mites program (U10) or with enough numbers to run the program, SMSA would offer “Learn to Play” (more information is available here).
With each age category, minor division leagues are classified into three tiers:
- A. This is the highest level of competition. “A” generally practice throughout the winter (some staring in January), play more games and travel to neighbouring provinces and states for tournaments. All “A” teams participate in a provincial championship in early July, with the top four teams advancing to either the Canadian or the Western Canada championship tournaments (usually held between late July and mid August). “A” teams are formed by private organizations based on try-outs normally held in early September. Note that “A” ball starts at the Squirt level.
- B. This is an intermediate level game, and is run through community clubs organized on geographic boundaries. While some “B” teams practice during the winter, many start in mid-April, and play through to the end of June, when league championships are held. League champions (and some runners-up, depending on the number of teams in the league) participate in a provincial championship in early July.
- C. This is a purely recreational game, and is run through community clubs organized on geographic boundaries. Most “C” teams start in mid-April, and play through to the end of June, when league championships are held. League champions (and some runner-ups, depending on the number of teams in the league) participate in a provincial championship in early July.
Information on Provincial Fast Pitch can be found here.
WAIT, AREN’T SOFTBALL AND BASEBALL THE SAME THING?
Softball is directly descended from baseball, but there are marked differences. First, there are three forms of softball:
- Fastpitch (full motion pitching – competitive)
- Orthodox (arm does not make a full circle when pitching – semi-competitive / recreational)
- “Slo pitch” (arm does not make a full circle and pitch has an arc minimum of 6′ from the ground.
Second, where baseball has nine innings, softball has seven.
Third, the size of ball is different. Baseball uses a 9 inch ball, which requires a three finger grip. Softball uses an 11″ or 12″ ball (depending on age) and uses a full finger grip.
Fourth, there are big differences in pitching:
- Baseball pitches overhand, while softball uses underhand windmill or orthodox pitching styles.
- The pitching distance is further in baseball which provides more time to react to the pitch.
- Baseball pitches from a raised, sloping mound, while fast pitch softball pitches from a flat surface.
In softball, the plays can be quick and complex, but incredible to watch and, of course, execute as a player. We are constantly amazed at the calibre of our players, even those as young as 10 years old.
Here’s a great video from ESPN explain more about softball and the differences to baseball:
Last update: 31 March 2017 @ 19:16CDT