A number of the youngest and newest softball players practice catching and throwing techniques during a drill in the PES gym on March 22.

A number of the youngest and newest softball players practice catching and throwing techniques during a drill in the PES gym on March 22.

Ponoka minor ball takes training indoors

Getting an early start is especially important for Ponoka Minor Ball coaches when the playing season is short.

Getting an early start is especially important when the playing season is short.

That’s part of the idea behind Ponoka Minor Ball holding an indoor training session for its softball and baseball players at the Ponoka Elementary School gym.

The program which begins in early March has been operating for girls’ softball for several years, but only began this year for the baseball side.

Coach Lucas Willier explained the sessions are designed to develop the basic skill level in fielding, throwing, catching and pitching.

“It’s about them having fun and them getting to know who they will be playing ball with. The gym work gives players confidence, excitement and allows us to set the season up and really know what the player numbers will be like,” Willier stated.

“The season is only nine weeks, so the games start right away and we found that our teams have a better season with these gym times.”

Willier added the association believes playing organized sports helps develop lifelong friendships between players and providing more time to get know each other helps in other ways too.

“I would like to believe that we teach them something other associations don’t have time to, but I think it all adds up to the players already being teammates,” he said.

In addition to the sessions helping the experienced players get tuned up, the gym time also helps the first time and younger players gain knowledge of the game while developing the basic skills needed to play.

“I think the smiles the players have only proves that they are developing confidence and friendships while having fun. There is something magical about ball and the movies always try to capture this magic. But, you just have to sit and watch your child play the game and you start to feel the excitement,” Willier said.

He added that with the success seen in softball, the association felt baseball would benefit from having the same opportunity for skill development.

This season will see Ponoka Minor Ball field softball teams in five categories ranging from mites (ages 5-7) up to bantam (15-16), while there is expected to be baseball teams in categories from Rallycap (5-7) up to peewee (12-13). Baseball does offer bantam (14-15) and midget (16-18), though Ponoka hasn’t had enough players to put a team together which has meant the players joining teams in other communities.

Hit n’ Run Local softball players will get the chance to learn from some high level players next month. On April 23, members of the SAIT Trojans club will be in town to visit and talk with players about what it takes to play at the collegiate level. The team will also hold a training session for players to enhance skill development. More information about Ponoka Minor Ball can be found by heading to www.ponokaminorball.com.