Despite the rain falling on the roof of The Starkville Swing on Saturday, nothing could dampen the spirits of the kids who entered the baseball/softball training facility to register for another season of play in the Starkville Baseball Association.
A near-constant flow of players showed up during the three-hour sign-up period and second-year SBA president Brian Evans says he, like the kids, can't wait to get the games started in 2011.
"We're getting everything wrapped up as far as registration goes," said Evans. "We've now got to get these teams selected and get everybody going."
Evans indicated Saturday that SBA will likely extend its registration deadline to at least mid-week of this week so that potential participants can have a few extra days to sign up.
Plenty of players are already registered for the league which starts playing games in the Freshman, Minor, and Coach Pitch divisions around the beginning of April.
SBA Tee-ball games will begin around the middle of April.
All SBA teams will play at least 12 games, followed by a season-ending tournament.
Team drafts should be completed in the mid-to-late portions of this month.
For the Coach Pitch league, the process of dividing up teams began, in part, upon players registering at The Swing.
For the first time, players in the Coach Pitch league are required to go through a skills assessment to ensure the teams are divided up as evenly as possible.
"We're just going through some basic baseball skills with the kids," said Evans. "We're seeing how fast they run, how accurate they throw, how they hit and field pop flies and grounders. We do that to equalize the talent. We want the games to be competitive and let everybody have fun. (The evaluation system) is not perfect, but we'll learn from it and see how it goes in future years."
While players in the Coach Pitch division are the only ones going through the evaluation process, Evans says it is the beginning of a greater long-term goal for SBA.
Evans indicated it is the aim of the association to put a strong focus on the teaching of every player going forward.
"We're really trying to increase the level of instruction that we provide all players in the league," said Evans. "I think our evaluations are even a good measure of seeing where the kids are and seeing some things that the kids need help with."
As SBA puts its focus on improving each players' skills, Evans says he looks forward to again being at the head of the league.
After all, Evans holds a special place for all SBA players as his motivation for being in his current role came from his favorite youth baseball player.
"One of the reasons I got involved is because I enjoyed coaching my son's teams so much," said Evans. "I want to bring that passion I have for the game to as many kids as possible."