It was “batter up” at Toohig Park in Neponset on Saturday for girls between the ages of 5 and 16 as the All Dorchester Sports League hosted the first girls softball games of the season. ADSL has the only girls softball league in Dorchester, where there are three Little Leagues for baseball.
Ann Walsh, from ADSL, described the softball league as “a little startup” because it is less established than some of the other leagues in the neighborhood. One hundred and fifty girls have registered for the league, which is broken up by age – 5-7, 8-9, 10-12, 13-16 – into four divisions of four teams each.
Because the league is relatively new, the teams are short on funds, according to the softball announcement. Depending on the division they are in, players pay between $25 and $60 each for the season, which is not enough to cover the entire cost of running the program.
So ADSL asked for help from four female elected officials who represent Dorchester: state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and City Councillors Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Ayanna Pressley. They said yes, and each of them now sponsors a division and the amount they have donated allows the league to hire to hire licensed umpires for the older girls’ games, buy equipment for all the teams, and provide a small stipend for a program coordinator.
“The work that the All Dorchester Sports League does in our community is incredibly important in engaging the minds and bodies of our young people as they grow into successful adults,” said Campbell, who sponsors the 10-12 division. “Equal access to sports programming is a nation-wide struggle that has existed for decades, and we know the positive effects that teamwork and outdoor recreation have on women’s overall health and safety.”
Two teams from the 8-9-year-old division, which is sponsored by Essaibi George, took the field at the Toohig on Saturday. No score was kept, and only the basic rules of the game were enforced. The girls took turns at the plate, cheered on by the other girls on the field.
Each batter kept swinging until she hit a ball and dashed towards first base. The uniforms had not yet arrived, which added to the informal feel of the game.
Seven-year-old Lila Curtin wore a purple “Dot Rat” T-shirt to the game. She grinned broadly when she hit the ball. “I like the teamwork,” she said after she had run all the bases. “Sometimes it’s hard to get along with boys,” she added.
“ADSL has done amazing work for a long time, and to have an all girls softball league really helps to build that teamwork and friendship,” said Sen. Forry, whose daughter Madeline plays in the youngest division.
Caroline Hanlon, who manages a team named the Daredevils, said that she decided to coach because she played softball when she was younger and wanted her two daughters and other girls in the neighborhood to have the same experience. Her favorite part of teaching is seeing her team improve as the season progresses, she said.
When the game was over, Hanlon called her team into a tight huddle and asked if everyone had had fun. The girls nodded, and said “yes” enthusiastically. Nine-year-old Ailish Dujardin and her twin sister Claire then said that they were excited to go home and practice for the next game.