May 4, 2010 by wcobserver
Those cool spring evenings are back and West Fork’s Carter Park opened the season Monday night. T-ball and girls softball starts May 3. Games are played on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights. The web site for schedules and rain outs is wcclnagsa.org
About 275 players participate in Carter Park ball programs. This year there are 150 boys signed up for 13 boy’s teams and 125 girls on 9 girls soft ball teams; an increase from last year. West Fork is part of Washington County Civic League with teams for Boys 4-15 years old and the Northwest Arkansas Girls Soft Ball Association for girls 4-14 years old.
West Fork is sanctioned by USSSA, commonly called “U-trip”(u+ triple s). It’s a competive, recreation league with tournaments. In a recreational league an individual or team can go to state tournament. It has a broad skill level.
Boys start at age 5-6 with t- ball then move on to machine pitch at age 7. The 9-10 year olds play on a field with shorter distances with kid pitch, called “rookie” ball. “Bambino” for 11-12 year olds is regular base ball played on a shorter field. Teenage boys play regulation baseball on a high school field.
Girl softball age categories are 14 and under, 12 and under and 8 and under. Girls aged 10, 12, 14 play on Paul Mueller Field (on school property leased to city) Girls age 8 and under use machine pitch.
Each team obtains its own sponsor or parents buy the uniforms which include hats, shirts, pants, socks, The city provides balls, bats, helmets and catcher’s equipment. The city also pays for umpires which cost about $8500 last season.
Carter Park is a multi use facility. There are three fields at Carter Park: field 1and 2 have lights. Field 3 has no lights and is the machine pitch field. In addition to ball fields the park has, tennis courts, basket ball courts, a pavilion, restrooms, and concession stand with a grill.
The park was built as a result of a bond issue passed in 2002. The bond is paid off with a 1% city sales tax which is due to be paid off in 2012. The first season for Carter Park was spring 2003. The flood in 2004 destroyed fields, fences, pavement; it essentially destroyed the park.
A seven member Parks Commission oversees the operation of all the city parks and hires the Park Director who heads the Parks Department which in addition to managing the parks also organized Christmas light contest the past year. They sponsor an annual golf tournament to benefit baseball fund. Other fundraisers include West Fork Day at Arkansas Natural’s Arvest Park. Other fundraising activities raised about $1,400 last year. The parks department receives about $1000 a month from the city budget.
Stephen Sprick is the Parks Director. “Baseball had been a part of my life since I was 4 years old. I’ve been player, umpire, coach and now coordinator…helping kids is a civic. This job fits like an old glove,” he said.