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If your daughter will be 9 or 10 by Jan. 1 and plays in the Tell City Girls Softball League, you might want to consider investing in pitching lessons for her this winter.
That’s because the league has revised its age groups and the new age-9-10 group will use live pitching for part of its games next summer.
For the past five years the age-8-9 division used a pitching machine the entire game and the 10-12 league used live pitching.
There were some problems with that set-up, though. Some little 10-year-olds were intimidated by facing 12-year-old pitchers, many of whom were nearly full grown.
Girls entering the 10-12 league also had no pitching experience. That led to a lot of walks and put Tell City behind most area girls softball programs.
It also meant that when a 10-12 team needed to draft a pitcher it was doing so blindly.
So league officers decided to return to the system the league used in 2007.
That means an age-9-10 division will hit off a pitching machine the first three innings of each game and then use live pitching the last two innings.
The games should be almost constant action the first three innings, with hitters and fielders getting plenty of chances to demonstrate their ability at those skills.
Though umpires will be instructed to call a liberal strike zone, the last two innings will presumably include a lot of walks, especially at first, as the rookie pitchers learn their craft. But at least that won’t be the case the entire game and pitchers will be developed at an earlier age.
In short, this should include the best of both worlds for the 9-10 division and should eventually make the older age groups better as they benefit from getting more experienced pitchers.
In 2007 ages 5-6 played T-ball and ages 7-8 played entire games with a pitching machine.
Age-4 players have been added to the league since then, though, so league officers debated how to divide those lowest two age groups.
Some felt that players would not want to spend three years in T-ball. So ages 4-5 will play T-ball and ages 6-8 will play with a pitching machine.
That will likely make the age-6-8 group the league’s largest division.