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Summer recreation baseball leagues kick off
June 21, 2019

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Little leaguers descended on local baseball diamonds last week as the Rugby Recreation Department kicked off another summer season.

Hunter Hager, who manages the summer program, said the baseball and softball teams have something to offer for a wide age range of youth.

"We go from five-year-olds all the way up to 15-year-olds with different levels for baseball and girls' softball," Hager said.

Hager indicated the number of teams has expanded in recent years.

"At each level, there are multiple teams. We just had so many kids in the program, it helps with playing time. So, those teams play each other in Rugby a couple of times a year, and then they go out and play other towns, too," Hager said.

Rugby combines with teams from other communities including Rolla, Rolette, Belcourt and Cando to form the Turtle Mountain League. The league's teams play against teams from other towns in the area.

"So," Hager continued, "we have our own little league along with other out of town games."

"Each team has a sponsor or two," Hager noted. "With each team, they have their own sponsor, or two on some of the teams, which is nice, because in the past, we had just a few of those. Now, we're getting to the point where every single team here has their own team sponsor every summer, which is awesome."

Hager said this season's sponsors are: Rugby Dental; Rugby Jaycees; First International Bank; Merchants Bank; Ramsey Bank; Subway; Center Mutual Insurance; Bartsch Electric, St Michel Furniture and I Design.

Baseball teams begin with t-ball, and then advance to "Pee Wees" and "Midgets." The most advanced level, for middle-to-early-high school aged players, is called the "Babe Ruth" team.

Forty players in the Midget League were treated to a trip to watch the Sabre Dogs play baseball in Minot earlier in the season.

Hager said the players, who range in age from 10-12-years-old "had a blast. This is something we might do annually."

Meanwhile, Rugby Babe Ruth players hosted a round robin tournament at the Rugby High baseball diamond, where they defeated teams from Rolla/Rolette and Cando, after starting their season with a loss to Towner.

"We have quite a few guys from last year coming back. We have a pretty big squad this year. A lot of the older guys are stepping up, showing the younger guys how it's done," Babe Ruth Coach Dillon Marco said. Marco is a student at Dakota College at Bottineau, where he plays baseball with the Lumberjacks.

Hager is also a college student, and he said of the recreation staff, "Everybody here is currently in high school, just graduated high school, or in college."

"It's an awesome summer job," he said of his work. "I couldn't ask for anything better. I get to hang out with my friends while I'm working, and then it doesn't feel so much like work. We're all doing what we like, and we have good kids in the community, so it makes it a much easier job."

Hager said he attends the University of Jamestown and has one year left in his studies as an elementary education major.

Hager said he grew up in Rugby and he played baseball little league baseball in the community when he was a child.

Although the registration deadline for this year's little league season has passed, Hager urged families with young children to consider enrolling their children in baseball or softball for next summer.

"It's a great opportunity for the kids to learn from guys who have gone through the program and play high school and college sports," Hager noted, "and obviously (for young players ) to get a little bit better each summer, to the point where, when they get into these junior high and high school sports, they're prepared."

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