For youngsters, the crack of the baseball bat holds magic into autumn
The Trenholm Globetrotters get ready to make a defensive play as a Trenholm Fireballs player prepares for the pitch. The Globetrotters won 13-2 against the Fireballs.
Coach Rickey Fruster, left, and Gabe Ingram Jr. wait for a team hit, so Ingram can score one of their team’s 13 runs during their double-digit victory at Trenholm Park.
Richland County’s Trenholm Little League is one of many leagues around the state beginning its season of fall play. With young athletes being able to play baseball and softball in the fall, adolescents can now play the sport year-round.
By Antoine Thomas
As the air begins to cool and jeans and sweaters become everyday wear, the sights and sounds of football remind people of autumn’s return. But as many youth players don cleats and shoulder pads, some athletes still stick with baseball bats and gloves.
Little Leagues around the state opened their fall baseball and softball seasons late September, luring adolescents back to the ball diamond for the joy of running the bases and nabbing fly balls.
“These guys that really like playing, they want to play all year so that league’s there for them,” said Gabe Ingram, coach of the Trenholm Globetrotters, a coach’s pitch team of 6- to 8-year-old. “Those that are serious about baseball, I think are the ones you’re going to see in the spring and fall.”
Among those on his team, Ingram coaches his son, Gabe Jr., and his nephew Hudson Ingram, at the baseball fields at Richland County’s Trenholm Park.
“I think it’s good to have him in one sport, especially at a young age,” Hudson’s mother, Angela Ingram, said. “Just to try to develop his skills, keep him in one sport and make sure he’s good and learns how to play.”
She said Hudson is new to the game and playing baseball year-round allows him to continue understanding the sport. Gabe Ingram's daughter, Avery, 9, plays softball at Trenholm's fall league, although she prefers the spring league. That season is more competitive because players vie for coveted spots on the finale All-Stars teams.
“I like spring ball because I never know if I’m going to get picked or not,” Avery said. “And every time I’ve made it to All-Stars.”
Trenholm Little League president Kris Mattox said the fall league serves more as an instructional and laid-back season for players, compared to the spring season. It draws eager parents to the bleachers to cheer on their children on crisp fall nights.
Although many children pass up fall league to play other sports, those who love the game are sticking with baseball all year, Maddox said. More than 270 kids, ages 6 to 12, signed up for Trenholm’s fall league – about 100 fewer than its spring league signees earlier this year. Maddox said it’s the highest number of fall recruits in the seven years he’s been there.
Because baseball is no longer just played in the spring, players don’t have to switch to other sports to stay active.
Gabe Jr. and his teammates don’t worry much about the score at the end of the game – even when a series of throwing errors sometimes runs up the score for one team or another. They just love the game and being with friends.
“I get to hit and play defense,” the 6-year-old said. “They are all good and they are all my friends.”