South Big Horn Little League chooses own path, adds senior team

Nathan Oster

Practices have begun at the upper levels and all teams are scheduled to make their season debuts the second week in May as the South Big Horn Little League embarks on its first season as a fully chartered organization.

Curtis and Kaitlyn Johnson, the president and vice-president, respectively, of SBHLL, said there are 136 kids signed up to play on 13 teams. There will be five T-ball teams, four coach-pitch teams, two minors teams, one majors team and a new senior team featuring some members of last year's Babe Ruth team.

The numbers suggest the league is on strong footing. In 2022, there were 126 players.  In 2021, there were 123.  The 2020 season was lost to COVID-19.

"This season we are seeing a high number of players in senior, minors and coach pitch," said Kaitlyn Johnson.  "Our senior team has 17 players and our minors teams are averaging 15 players (one with 15 and one with 14). 

"Our Majors team is seeing players this year that have been playing baseball with SBHLL since T-ball/coach-pitch. We are really excited for each of our teams this season and cannot wait for another year of baseball."

The biggest change is SBHLL's status as a standalone entity, no longer chartered under North Big Horn Little League.  

"As a league in southern Big Horn County over the past few years, we have been seeing substantial growth through numbers in players and teams, and due to this, we made the decision to charter on our own so we would have more independence and the ability to continue to grow," said Kaitlyn Johnson. 

"The process for us to charter on our own was much easier than planned or predicted. Our district administrator made the process for chartering seamless. By chartering as our own league, we will now be able to form an all-stars minors team and an all-stars majors team rather than having to combine with NBHLL as in years past. 

"Starting next year, we will be able to offer online registration in addition to continuing to allow paper registrations. Chartering as our own league was a huge stepping stone in the path to solidifying that baseball will continue in our community for decades to come."

The other change of note is the formation of a Senior Little League team, made up of kids ages 13 to 16.  There are no restrictions on the type of opponents it can schedule — it can play other towns' Babe Ruth, Legion or Senior Little League squads.

Fifteen games are scheduled at this point, starting with a May 9 home game against Otto.

"We are very excited to provide this team as a stepping stone to future Legion baseball teams for our local players," said Curtis Johnson.

Opening Day this year is set for Saturday, May 13.  It'll be an all-day celebration of the sport, with the first game starting at 10:30 a.m., the last one around 4:30 p.m. Concessions will be available for purchase.

"We hope to see the community up on the hill supporting our youth as they start their 2023 baseball season!" said Curtis Johnson. "Opening day is a day for America's pastime, baseball!"