The Newton Girls Softball board has decided to expand the Rec League and rearrange the divisions starting in spring 2022.
We received a lot of feedback that this is what people want. The Board spent many hours deliberating this, also seeking input from parents at different age levels, and feel that this shift will provide a better experience for our children and help grow softball in Newton. Transition years are always bumpy, there are pros and cons, but we feel good about this. The Rec League remains welcoming and open to players of all abilities and levels of experience in sports.
The 2022 Rec divisions will be:
6-8: Player-pitch with 12-inch ball.
4-5: Player-pitch with 11-inch ball, coaches coming in on ball four.
2-3 Coach-pitch with a transition to player-pitch mid-season.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
Two primary reasons. First, it allows more children to play softball. Second, we like how this lines up developmentally. More on those points below.
WHAT WILL THE 6-8 DIVISION LOOK LIKE?
We don’t expect many changes on the field compared with last year’s 5-7 Rec League. The Rules Committee will be making a few changes to base stealing to make the game faster, more competitive and fun.
Historically, Newton’s Rec league stopped at 6th grade as most girls played for their middle schools. 7th grade was added a few years back. As youth softball has waned in popularity with more competition from other sports, we’ve seen two impacts at the middle schools. First, some schools can’t field a team. Second, as schools have moved to “no cut” tryouts, some teams have actually grown in size and can have big rosters, reducing playing time. Bottom-line: opening Rec gives 7th and 8th graders a chance to play more softball.
We also like this shift because it lines up more cleanly with the style of play and 12-inch ball used in middle schools and the summer travel Panther programs.
WON’T THIS CONFLICT WITH THE MIDDLE SCHOOL TEAMS?
Newton Public School programs typically end around 4 pm and have no Wednesday or weekend activities. We will have Rec games on Wednesdays and Sundays, and weekday practices that begin no earlier than 5 pm. For events that do conflict between Rec and middle school, players should always attend their school team’s events.
If your 7th or 8th grader makes a middle school team and that’s just too much softball for your family, you are eligible for a full refund through April 1st, or when middle school teams are made.
WHAT ABOUT MY 6TH GRADER FACING THOSE BIG 8TH GRADERS?
It’s always a transition year for the youngest players at this level: a bigger ball, farther mound, bigger athletes. There’s just no way around this. We feel that 6th graders will be better equipped for the challenges than 5th graders.
Yes, 6th graders in 2022 will be the young ones two years in a row, but we feel good about this group of pioneers. We are also considering rules to balance the pitching by grade levels, to “protect” the 6th graders.
DID YOU CONSIDER A 7-8 OR 7-9 DIVISION?
Yes. We don’t think we have enough 8th or 9th graders interested in softball right now to make those division structures work. We also have field constraints.
WHAT WILL THE 4-5 DIVISION LOOK LIKE?
This division will be player-pitch with coaches coming in after ball four. We will encourage a maximum of four walks per inning, then a shift to coach-pitch for the remainder of that inning. We don’t expect many changes on the field compared with last year’s 3-4 division.
We like this shift because 3rd graders tend to struggle with pitching. We think this shift will help elevate the quality of play and make the games more exciting.
We also like the shift because it lines up more with our summer Panthers program, as most 4th and 5th graders will be in the 10U division with the 11-inch ball.
WHAT WILL THE 2-3 DIVISION LOOK LIKE?
This division will be coach-pitch. We are planning to transition to partial player-pitch midway through the season, with coaches coming in on ball four. Pitchers will be allowed three walks per inning, then the coach will take over for the remainder of that inning. The league commissioner and coaches will evaluate the practicality for how and when to introduce player pitchers. The rules committee is considering some other changes to design a more exciting game.
We like this because many 1st graders struggle to hit pitching. We think this shift will help elevate the quality of play and pace of games.
We also like the shift because it lines up more with our summer Panthers program, as most 2nd and 3rd graders will be in the 8U division.
WHAT WILL THE K-1 DIVISION LOOK LIKE?
This division will remain T-Ball. As the season progresses, we will transition to coach-pitch for players who would like to hit off a coach for more of a challenge. (Don’t worry, there are no strikeouts in this division. We’ll bring back out the tee if a player struggles to hit off the coach.)
Historically, Newton Girls Softball did not have a T-Ball division. We added the kindergarten program several years ago, which has remained small. We like this change because it should grow the division and allow us to play more small games.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE WITH NEIGHBORING CITIES?
Every town does things differently — there is really no right or wrong set-up. Again, we feel like this shift works best for our community right now. If the demographics of Newton softball shift again and future Boards want to make changes to improve our product, we’re open to that.
CAN MY DAUGHTER PLAY “UP” IN THE HIGHER DIVISION?
No. We feel strongly that Rec is about being with friends and being part of a team of like-aged players. We don’t want to alter that.
If you feel your child is not being challenged enough, we can point you toward additional options, such as our summer travel and fall Panthers programs that are geared toward more competitive play.
Note: For the rare player who plays two years in a summer Panthers division, then makes a higher division beyond her birth year, the Rec Director and Panthers Director will consider allowing this athlete to play in a higher Rec division. For example, a 2011 birth year who already played two years of 10U and is playing 12U next summer. This is very rare. We will only consider moving players in Rec who meet this strict criterion.
Questions? Please email League President Jason Margolis at