The Summerville and Crowfield Little League Baseball organizations have opened registration for their Challenger Division.

“Registration is now free for the Challenger Division and we hope to have new players join us for the 2011 season,” Zap Rook, supervisor for the local Challenger programs, said. “We typically field four teams for boys and girls with physical and mental challenges and have a very diverse group of players.”

Little League established the division in 1989 to give children with disabilities opportunities to enjoy the game of baseball. Officials say local Little League programs have had a Challenger Division for at least 11 years.

The division was designed for youth age 4-18, however students who are still enrolled in school can participate up to age 22.

Teams play on regulation Little League fields, locally on Saturdays at both the Summerville Little League complex located at Boundary Street and at the Crowfield Little League fields. The season begins March 19 and runs until the end of May.

Open to new players, the drop in times for picking up uniforms are 6-7:30 p.m. March 17 at the Summerville complex and 18 March 6:30-8:00 p.m. March 18 at the Caromi Fire Department in front of Crowfield Ballpark. Challenger teams will participate in the opening day ceremony for Summerville Little League, scheduled for 9 a.m.  March 19.  Following the ceremony, Challenger teams will play in a game that will allow coaches a chance to meet and greet new players.

“We are similar to the Miracle League program,” Rook said. “Our main focus is on the social aspects of baseball. It’s a great program. So many parents have told me that it really helped their child open up and develop their social skills. However, we play on a grass field and put more emphasis on teaching players the fundamentals of baseball.”

He says a child doesn’t have to have any experience with the sport to participate. Coaches and on-field Buddies assist players who need help and provide instruction on fundamentals. Also, children don’t have to make the March uniform pick-up dates to participate. They can join at any point during the season.

“It’s a lot of fun for the kids and we invite anyone to come out and cheer them on,” Rook said. “It’s really something to see.”

For more information on the league, which does offer sponsorship opportunities, call Zap Rook at 708-7665 or email jrook@sc.rr.com.

Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or rlee@journalscene.com.