- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
It all came down to what the ball players in the Scottsburg community wanted, and they got their wish with a new ball field, prompted by the Scottsburg Dixie Youth Baseball League’s move to the DYB Ozone League.
“What pushed us to do O-Zone was the interest of the boys. They wanted to play off the bases and use the big-barreled bats, and they kept on saying that,” said league president Randy Irby.
“As a board we got together and talked about it. I don’t know baseball, but it makes common sense.
“You’re taking little baby steps, and I’ve always understood it as each lower division feeds the ones above it.
“To me, O-Zone feeds the middle school. You learn to play off the base and not get picked off, and the catcher learns what to watch for when the runner plays off the base.”
Irby pointed to O-Zone as a more natural progression to middle school baseball and beyond as opposed to the DYB Major League, which O-Zone replaced.
O-Zone regulations require a distance of 70 feet between bases, while Major League rules require 60 feet, and the distance from home plate to the mound is 50 feet in O-Zone, compared to 46 feet in the Major League.
“You’re moving the mounds back another four feet to 50 feet,” said Irby, who pointed out the distance from home plate to the pitcher’s mound in middle school is 54 feet.”
By his estimation, the rules changes for O-Zone make it more fun to play baseball.
“Most of these kids may not go anywhere else to play, but at least let them have fun at this level. So many kids drop out from 12-13 years-old, and if they want to do this, then let them,” Irby said.
“At Scottsburg, we have 15 teams in four divisions, and you can play any of them on the new field, but we kept the Minor League at the old (front field), so more will have a chance to win a home run trophy if they want to (180-foot fence, 60 feet between bases).
“We try and teach them to base hit the ball, but if they want that option, we let them.”
This weekend’s district machine pitch tournament will be played on the front field, but parents and volunteers will get a chance to see what their efforts have help create once they see the new field, Irby added.
“A lot of businesses donated time and material or both, and a lot of private people did too. Parents, coaches and volunteers from Scottsburg donated a pile, but probably the biggest donation came from Edwin Conner, who donated time with bulldozer work, tree work, grading the field, and moving the bleachers for us,” said Irby.
“We had lights and light poles donated, cement work done, and we have a warning track with rock dust in the outfield.”
“The school worked really well with us, including Larry Roller (director, operations and maintenance), the principal of Scottsburg Elementary School (Barbara Tune), and the school board let us do it and worked good with us.
The next project for the league is building an enclosed batting cage, for the community, not just for players in the Scottsburg Dixie Youth Baseball League.
“People will have an opportunity to go hit somewhere inside,” Irby explained.
“We went and looked at the one at Halifax County South and talked to Harrison Conner. He talked about it, what he liked and what he didn’t like about his building.”
It’s all about preparing youth to play baseball at the next level or just to have fun while engaging in America’s Pastime, he hinted.