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New level of youth baseball pitched for Forsyth County
Supporters say effort would thin travel ranks, keep players at local parks

FORSYTH COUNTY — A new level of youth baseball could be coming to Forsyth County this spring.

During a meeting Wednesday night, the parks and recreation board voted 4-0, with member Joe Brown absent, to form a subcommittee to look into a proposed level that falls between rec league and travel baseball.

Board member Gary Cooper and Clayton Munnell, the county’s youth athletic supervisor, will make up the panel. They plan to meet with representatives from local parks. The board will then revisit the matter, and likely vote on it, at next month’s meeting.

The decision came after the board heard from Steve McMichael, baseball commissioner for the Sharon Springs Athletic Association. The goal of the proposal, he said is to create a two-tier pilot program for 7-year-old players that would keep them playing locally.

“Our goal is to try to create some type of majors-minors program,” McMichael said. “Why do we need a majors and minors? Our strong belief is we need a more competitive rec program to provide better financial options with less time commitments than travel baseball.

“We definitely need to reduce the number of travel teams in our parks.”

According to McMichael, creating a more competitive league than average rec ball would help stem the exodus of youth players to travel teams or programs in other counties.

“We need to keep growing our rec program,” he said. “We have definitely been seeing a decrease in our numbers. We still have big numbers, but why should we be shrinking in anything in Forsyth County.”

Dana Petrin, president of the Sharon association, said families are less interested in returning to rec leagues after their children have played all-star or travel baseball.

McMichael said that the “majors” level would offer higher competition, while “minor” would be help those who are newer to or less invested in baseball.

“Majors would still be a rec team under a rec schedule. They wouldn’t be going to weekend travel tournaments and no post rec season tournaments,” McMichael said.  

“The minor players develop and build confidence, playing against an opponent rather than batting last or playing every other inning on defense. It creates a different opportunity.”

Under the proposed setup, both levels would hold a postseason tournament, with coaches for the major teams shadowing their counterparts in minor.