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West Alabama Babe Ruth League returns

DEMOPOLIS &045; Sign-ups for the West Alabama Babe Ruth League, the youth league baseball program which serves players aged 13-15, opened Tuesday. Athletes born on or between May 1, 1992 and April 30, 1995 are eligible to participate.

League organizers are hopeful of fielding six teams of approximately 11-12 players in each of the three age groups. Meeting that goal would put the league in line with its previous success numbers/

The program, which serves as a complement to the Cal Ripken League, focuses on honing players&8217; skills while providing them another outlet with which to get game experience.

Babe Ruth will take a slightly different approach to helping the players develop this season. In previous seasons teams have been coached primarily by younger adults, typically college-aged individuals, with collegiate baseball experience. For the 2008 season, league organizers have chosen to pair younger coaches with adults who have spent substantial time in the Demopolis youth league program. League officials are hopeful this move will help enhance the experience, offering a much-needed familiarity with the players to younger coaches while providing athletes another resource for growth.

The league will consist of players from Demopolis and Linden. However, according to Hasty, an invite may be extended to players from the Livingston area should they not have success in forming their league.

If the Sumter County players take part in the Demopolis and Linden league, it would likely serve to deepen what many consider an already rich talent base that carries high expectations.

The 15-year-old age group includes the players who won the 13-year-old state title two years ago and advanced to the 14-year-old state tournament last season. The other two age groups figure to be anchored by players from the successful Demopolis Middle School and Marengo Academy programs.

Last season all three age groups from the Demopolis-based league advanced to the state tournament and organizers hope for similar success this season. If the 14-year-old all-star team advances to the state tournament, it will not have far to travel to compete, as Demopolis will play host to the event this summer.

League registration is open until Friday, April 11 with applications available at Omni Sports or by contacting Hasty at (334) 507-6753. League cost is $65 including hat and jersey and is due at the time of registration.

The start-date has yet to be determined but Hasty is hopeful competition will begin around the second week of May. Organizers are awaiting the conclusion of local high school program&8217;s playoff runs to determine an exact opening day.