Craig's Little League baseball season is in full swing. This season, which got under way May 13, marks the second consecutive season Craig's league has been officially affiliated with the worldwide Little League youth baseball organizational sanctioning body.
Dave Pike, president of Craig Little League, said the league currently totals more than 225 players, with some 125 players coming from the Craig area and an additional 120 players coming from areas including Hayden and Meeker.
"We play a night schedule," Pike said. "Anybody that wants to come out and play baseball, boys and girls, from age eight to 15 can come out and we'll put them on teams and they'll play in a regular league."
The structure of the league is separated into age divisions of eight through 10, 11 and 12, and 13 through 15.
But what differentiates this league from past youth baseball in Craig is its inclusion of Little League all-star teams.
"What we do is, we play our regular schedule, then on June 17 we're going to have tryouts for all-stars," Pike said. "In each one of those age groups, there will be one all-star team, and they will be the team that represents Craig Little League Youth Baseball at the district tournament. If they win the district tournament, then they can advance on to the state tournament. If they win state, then they get to go on to the next step."
Pike said the motive behind the change to Little League affiliation made the most sense because of the chance to play additional games against different teams.
"For years, once we went to all-stars, we had what was called a North/West League," Pike said. "We played Hayden, Meeker and Rangely, and we played an all-star schedule with them. Then we had a year-end tournament and that was the end.
"With Little League, if they win, it gives them the opportunity to move on to the next level. So it's something to play for. Plus, they'll get to play a variety of games. They'll still play Meeker's all-stars and Hayden's all-stars, but we may also play some teams from Granby, Leadville or Idaho Springs."
Buddy Grinstead, the head coach of the Craig all-star team, said local Little League youth baseball is valuable for several reasons.
"Baseball is America's sport and baseball is important," Grinstead said. "There are not a lot of activities for youth and one way to help and work with the youth is getting them involved in baseball."
There are no tryouts for Little League youth baseball. Pike said anyone could come out and sign up. The cost for the season is $40, which includes a shirt and hat. If a player tries out for the all-star team, an additional $45 is required provided the player makes the team.
Last year, the team, made up of 11- and 12-year-old players, won the district championship and advanced to the state tournament. The team of eight- through 10-year-old players placed second in districts.
Games are going on through June and are played at 5:45 p.m. at either Woodbury Park or Craig Middle School.