LAUREL, MS (WDAM)- It's a site and sound not too well associated with little league baseball, at least not for four-week long seasons: the crack of wooden bats from little-league baseball players.
"I know of wood-bat tournaments, but I don't know of anybody that is doing a wood-bat league that the entire league is, you know, nine, ten, twelve games all wood-bat," shares Spike Richards, who runs Spike's Sandlot Baseball and Softball Academy in Laurel.
Especially for smaller players like Carson Davis, who's one of the smallest players on a team that fields players from 9 to twelve years old, swinging the big-leaguer's bat is something not something too comfortable. "Aluminum's easier; Lighter," he said.
Chase Ward, who's moving on to play college ball and is currently serving as a coach for one of the league's teams, observes that lower batting averages and more defense is to be expected, but as long as the kids are enjoying themselves playing the game, that's all that matters. "It's (the wooden bat) a little bit heavier, and most of them got to choke up because they're not really that strong yet, but most of all they're just enjoying the game of baseball and that's the main thing. As long as they're having fun, " said Ward.
The idea started when Richards and Jody Babineaux, manager of the local semi-pro team the Laural Black Cats, felt these players should still have a chance to play after not making their all-star or travel team rosters, and that politics may have over-shadowed performance. "There was a lot of kids that were getting over-looked," said Babineaux, "They wanted to continue to play baseball.
"Instead of adding aluminum bats, we went with wood bats because it was something different and unique and it would draw the kids to want to play."
The kids are going to go back to the aluminum bats they're accustomed to playing in a couple of weeks, but until then, aluminum bat or wooden bat, they just want to play baseball. "I just think personally, these guys are having a blast," said Babineaux.
Even through the intense summer heat, the players love taking to the diamond, and as part of their wooden-bat league, will do so three days a week for the next three weeks.
"They're just enjoying it. They're asking if they can practice more," said Richards.
"I mean, that's the main thing is about providing a good quality league for the kids to be able to just come out here and play," shares Babineaux, "We'll take all the politics out of it. It's just here it is. Here's the game, let's play."