The Douglas County Amateur Baseball Association may have a different look to it, but it still offers baseball players between the ages of seven to twelve the same opportunity to play competive baseball in Lawrence.
This year the league combined teams in the 7U age group with the 8U, the 9U with the 10U and the 11U with the 12U.
"We are taking steps to listen to the feedback from participants," said DCABA league president Stan Skwarlo. "We want to find the middle ground of expectations allowing kids to compete and stay in Lawrence to do it."
Teams are formed in different way depending on the age group. The 7-8 division is the only division where teams are not determined by a draft, but instead have been broken up into six teams based on what school district the player lives.
Players have the option of remaining with their team and coach from year to year. Those who opt not to play for a different team, or are new to the league can enter a draft starting in the 9-10 age division. Before the season players attend a skills assement camp and coaches select players to play for their team. This year the 9-10 age division is the largets with 10 total teams. The two-tiered division is broken up into the National league, which focuses more on development and the American, which tends to have more competitive teams. In the past DCABA has used the National and American divisions help to balance teams.
"There is such wide disparity of skill level on teams," he said.
Despite being group in different divisions and standings teams in the American and National divisions will play against one another in the regular season.
Another change in DCABA has also allowed team that formed outside of DCABA to play in the 11-12 age group. This year three of the eight teams in that league are independently formed teams. All eight teams will compete against one another for a shot at being the select team that DCABA sponsors to send to the state tournament in July. After the regular season ends, teams are seeded based on their league standings for a post-season tournament which will determine the league champion.
Players in DCABA will take a break from playing baseball to watching the Kansas City Tbones play baseball on July 27.
Before the season started, players and parents helped to prepare for the upcoming season. The league just wrapped up its annual Candy sale which goes toward the upkeep of the fields, equipment replacement and general operations. Because DCABA is a non-for-profit organization, it depends on these funds and the hard work of volunteers to make the league possible. All board members and coaches are volunteers. The league pays only a nominal fee to a administrative assistant and to a groundskeeper. Coaches, parents and volunteers came out before the season began to help prepare the fields for the two-month grind that the DCABA baseball puts on the fields at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, something Skwarlo said they didn't do in the past.
"There's a lot of tradition and nostalgia that goes along with DCABA in Lawrence," Skwarlo said.
Despite the changes made to the league this year, Skwarlo is optimistic that they will help the league continue to strive.
"You are going to hear the good, bad and the ugly about it but so far our feed back has been pretty good."