BELLVILLE — A growing effort to bring baseball to special-needs children is set to grow into its second season.
The Unstoppables Youth Baseball League continues to recruit Fredericktown-area players through the end of this week, said league coordinator Lindsay Roberts. The purpose of the league, which offers free play and access to baseball gear, is to have fun playing baseball once a week for an hour. Every child age 4 to 18 who is registered gets to hit the ball and field the ball with no conventional outs. The emphasis is on sportsmanship, developing friendship and supporting one’s teammates.
“Any kid with any physical, developmental, or mental disability is eligible to play,” Roberts said, “anything that would keep them from playing regular baseball.”
Players benefit from a “buddy” system — who are volunteers who aid them. For instance, a child in a wheelchair and can’t reach the ball on the ground receives help from a “buddy” who hands him the ball, and then the player throws on to first base. A unique batting cage with a bat swings at the ball with a push of a button for those with illnesses who cannot move their arms. It comes courtesy of the Engineering program at North Central State College students in Mansfield.
Roberts said there are three teams that will play, including two from Bellville/Clear Fork and one from Fredericktown. Fredericktown still needs players as registration winds down this week. So far, 36 have signed up — a large increase over last year’s inaugural group of 12 Unstoppables.
Games are typically played for one hour each Friday once the season starts, Roberts said, at the Clear Fork Youth Legue fields near Bellville Middle School. The Clear Fork Youth League took the Unstoppables Youth Baseball League under its wing last year, Roberts said. The results is that all equipment including gloves, cleats, shirts and other items for play are donated.
Fredericktown-area parents of special-needs children interested in the Unstoppables may register on the website by going to www.clearforkyouthleague.com and clicking on “register” to get started. A username and password must be created. For more information, they may also call Roberts at (419) 566-1224, or email her: email@example.com.