With the continued popularity of Dr. Phillips Little League comes new divisions and more fun.
With new growth comes added possibilities, and that’s something Dr. Phillips Little League’s Lee Liddick knows well.
Liddick, the league’s softball president, has been helping to establish a softball culture after years of challenging times, and it’s starting to really pay off.
Part of the physical proof of the development of DPLL is that softball is now here, as the League has established a girls T-ball team for the first time.
“Technically, it’s always been there… we’ve just never been able to do it,” Liddick said. “I advertised it last fall to try and get that kindergarten age to start playing softball at Dr. Phillips, and we could never get enough. I think I had two or three last year, so they ended up playing with our boys T-ball… so we always end up with two or three girls splattered in amongst all of the boys.”
For T-ball, the ages range from 3 to 5 years old, and Liddick noticed in his numbers for coach-pitch — the level above T-ball — that there were a few girls who could fall into that category.
Parents of two of those girls had actually contacted Liddick before signing them up for coach-pitch, asking whether the league offered T-ball for softball. Once Liddick saw one of the parents was concerned because her 5-year-old daughter would be playing against older girls in coach-pitch, he knew something had to be done.
“I advertised it last fall to try and get that kindergarten age to start playing softball at Dr. Phillips, and we could never get enough. I think I had two or three last year, so they ended up playing with our boys T-ball… so we always end up with two or three girls splattered in amongst all of the boys.”
— Lee Liddick
“We’ve never had this issue before … (because) we haven’t been this big to worry about ages and all of that kind of stuff,” Liddick said. “So that’s when I started looking at it — this was just two weeks ago — and I ended up contacting the other two parents, and they were OK with if we were able to create one to do that.”
Instantly, Liddick had three girls lined up for softball, and that sparked a need to get the word out about the new team via Facebook and word of mouth.
The effort saw two more girls join on for a total of five, and that’s all Liddick needed to form the team. Unlike other divisions, in T-ball there is no required number for players on the field.
With the team — and three new coaches — now officially set, T-ball will begin its fall season Saturday, Sept. 28, against one of the boys T-ball teams, before going on to play the first all-softball T-ball game against Windermere Little League at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at Lake Whitney Elementary School.
A big part of this new addition — along with the development of a juniors team — is the general growth for DPLL.
This fall, the league is up to 72 girls total across its different age groups — up 75% from last fall’s season — and is two off from its largest enrollment, which was achieved in the spring of 2017. What’s more, 51% of those enrolling this fall are new.
“I didn’t think we would get to these numbers yet,” Liddick said. “These were goals that I had set for fall of 2020, spring of 2021. It’s been great.”
The new T-ball program also will help build the organization as a whole, Liddick said. Having children start at an early age can help solidify the league’s foundation.
“It’s very vanilla and basic, but it introduces the sport to the girls,” Liddick said. “It lets them want more so that way they come back out and play coach-pitch.
“The big thing that we get faced with at this age — and even with coach-pitch — is you have to make it fun for them,” he said. “You have to make it where they’re having a good time and they’re not bored. That way, when the next season rolls around and they move up to the next level, they want to come back out and play softball.”