Summer is for baseball

By Jeff Smith

Alan Harvey hitting the baseball during one of the last pitches on July 15. Harvey was one of the 15 players on the Hill City Youth Athletics Coach Pitch team.

As summer is heating up,  the area baseball teams are wrapping up their seasons. Fifteen youth on the Hill City coach pitch team played Custer and Hermosa on July 15.

This team and all of the  Hill City baseball and softball teams were able to be formed through the Hill City Youth Athletics.

The organization started up last fall and gave students in the area a way to play basketball. Everything started in December and went through January. There was right around 80 players involved in one of the basketball teams.

It’s been baseball season for about two months for area youth. It started in May, but all of the games  have been in June and July.

Jake Rapp, baseball coordinator for Hill City Youth Athletics, said there has been an awesome amount of support.

Rapp said soccer is the next thing coming up for the Hill City Youth Athletics.

“We have a guy going to take a part in everything and is talking to communities,” Rapp said.

For baseball, there are seven teams and around 90 players. There is everything from tee ball to major league baseball and softball. The younger groups are co-ed programs and then beginning in the minor league, girls play softball and boys play baseball.

There are one to two coaches per team. Most of the coaches are parents of the players.

Rapp said there has been quite a bit of exposure at the places the teams have played.

“Other communities are interested in what we are doing,” Rapp said.

Each age group has one or two games every week. Some days there are double header events.

Rapp said there have been  plenty of volunteers for all of the events and people have given a lot of time and support.

This was evident in the coach pitch games.

Siblings of the players caught balls and there were also parents near the bases guiding the children along.

Coach pitch is where coaches doing all of the pitching. The players can still hit the ball and run all of the bases.

“It gets them used to having the ball come at them,” Rapp  said.

Anna Eckert, coach for the Hill City coach pitch, said she coached before and she and the other coach, Lacy Matkins, are both parents of players.

“We’ve coached baseball, tee ball,” Eckert said. “The kids are very motivated.”

Practices with the group took place one to two times a week and they had seven games this past season. Eckert said most of the children who have gone out for the team have stayed on throughout the season.

Practices take place once or twice a week.

They said they will probably coach basketball too.

Rapp said he and a group of people wanted to form the nonprofit organization because they saw a need for it.

“We’re going to keep going, definitely,” Rapp said.

The fee is the same for all of the sports. For the season, it is $30 per player.

For basketball, children were allowed to keep their T-shirt. For baseball or softball, they can keep their hats.

Rapp said Hill City Youth Athletics mostly operates out of registration fees.

“We’ve had some donations but we are not actively seeking,” Rapp said.

The group’s Facebook page says the goal of Hill City Youth Athletics is to provide a positive sports environment for youth.

“Kids need something to do,” Rapp said.