Youth softball takes the mound at Riverway Sports Park

Opening Day for softball at Riverway Sports Park will be held at 9 a.m. this Saturday, March 14

The Sun-Gazette

VISALIA – Softball will make its debut at the Riverway Sports Park this Saturday as two leagues take the field. 

Opening Day for the Visalia Youth Softball Association (VYSA) will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 14 with opening ceremonies. The day will also officially open softball at Riverway Sports Park and the fifth and final phase of the sports complex.

The day’s games will kickoff with age group U6 at 11 a.m. followed by U8 at 1 p.m., U10 at 3 p.m., U12 at 7 p.m. and U14 at 5 p.m. This year’s U8 games will also feature a rule change. With new pitching rules that moved the mound back and increased the ball from a 10-inch circumference to an 11 inch, VYSA’s board decided that coach pitch will kick in after the second walk of an inning. VYSA has been providing girls’ softball in Visalia since 1976 and has played its games at Whitendale Park over the past 37 years. In 2019, VYSA had 300 youth participants.

The softball complex will also play host to the Kaweah Little League Girls Softball (KLLS), which began play in 2016. KLLS has played its games at Green Acres Middle School for the last three years. In 2019, KLLS had 200 participants. The league will move up their season by one month to be concurrent with the VYSA for March through May. 

The Visalia City Council approved contracts with both leagues at its March 2 meeting. VYSA will have use of all four fields and concession stand from 3-11 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. KLLS will use the complex from 3-10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. The agreements grant each organization the use of the four fields and concession stand for two weekends of tournament play. Tournament date requests must be submitted three months in advance and must be approved by the City. 

City activities and programs will have the highest priority for use of the field, followed by youth sports leagues that primarily serve Visalia youth, such as the two softball leagues, more county-wide focused leagues and, at the lowest priority, for-profit programs and events. Visalia-based leagues will be allocated at least one game slot per team per week, as well as one practice slot as space allows. 

In exchange for use of the complex, each organization will pay $4 per hour per field, $15 per hour per field for lights, and $10 per hour per day, up to $100 for the concession stand. Maintenance of the facility will be shared between the City, VYSA and KLLS. The City will be responsible for regular grounds maintenance, including maintenance of the irrigation system, mowing the outfields, fertilization, and weed and rodent control. VYSA and KLLS shall be responsible for the maintenance and preparation of the infields on game days.

Similar to Cal Ripken’s use of the baseball fields, both softball leagues will be responsible for all maintenance, damages, repairs and upkeep of the fields during their seasons. The one-year leases end on Feb. 28, 2021 requiring both leagues carry a liability insurance policy with a $2 million limit per incident. 

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