Members of the Umpire Program introduced at opening day ceremonies were Danica Dykstra, Ashlyn Flores, Hallie Barlow, Tessa Denger, Olivia Bossoletti and Lily Bossoletti by Chris Denger manager. Photo and story by Richard Lieberman
Saturday, February 22nd, marked the opening day ceremonies of the Ventura Softball Rec League. Over 250 girls participated in the opening ceremony held at the Ventura Community Park and Aquatic Center.
Chris Denger, board member and coach became involved in the league when his daughter wanted to play softball about eight years ago. “I played a lot of baseball when I was younger, so it was a good fit” said Denger. “We have girls all the way from 5 and 6 years old to 13 and 14-year-old participants” he added. The season for the teams runs from February to the end of May. “We play all our games right here at Ventura Community Park” Denger added.
The league has an “All Star” season that begins at the end of May and through the middle of June. After the All-Star season the players begin a “Districts season” that pits players against competing teams throughout Ventura County. “The girls are awesome they are learning teamwork; they are learning how to play the game they are having fun and I think it is an awesome experience for everyone who gets signed up” he added. The league accepts girls of any skill level, girls that are just starting and girls that have been playing for several years. “We are the local softball rec league for Ventura” he said.” At the end of the season there is a draft and all the managers get together and decide who the all-star players will be.”
They also have a local Ventura contest hosting about 100 teams from communities around Southern California. “After than we start what we call districts and if you qualify there the team will go on to state, if you qualify at state then you go to nationals” he stated.
The league also has a junior umpire program that gives some of the upper level girls a chance to train as umpires for the rest of the league. “They go through a lot of training they get to earn some money. It’s a really unique program that the fast pitch girls have and it our eighth year doing it” said Denger.
President of the league Patty Happerfield began her career playing for the league when she was only eight years old, “I grew up in the league” she said. “I played in high school and got back involved in the league when my daughter was 6 and started coaching and just moved into the board because I wanted that to help make this program stronger” she added.
Currently this local league has about two hundred seventy-eight girls and is looking to add another one hundred to the roster.
The league recruits’ girls from our local schools by putting out banners and advertising in school publications. “We have a lot of backing from our city, we rent the fields from them, so they are very helpful, it is a really great relationship we have created with the city” she added.
“I grew up in the league and I hope that that every girl out there gets the same benefits I did where you can be a leader and be somebody that is involved in their community and be stronger, that is what softball taught me” Happerfield added.