By Ben Ray, For the Mirror
Federal Way National Little League hosted their fourth annual Hit-A-Thon fundraiser Sept. 10 to kick-start the fall ball season. Federal Way National received over $40,000 in donations from the Hit-A-Thon, which was the most they have received.
Jeff Noel is the majors director and has been volunteering since 2014. He was really impressed with the turnout for the Hit-A-Thon. There were over 100 players who raised over $150 each.
“This has been far and away the most successful one by far. We had a lot of great parents contributing to the cause,” he said.
Federal Way uses the funds in a multitude of ways, such as covering expenses, getting new updated scoreboards and utility vehicles, and helping those in need.
“One of the nice things that we do as a league is we do not turn away players,” Noel said. “The money helps with our scholarships that we offer families to allow their kids to play with us. But the motivation has always been on improvements. Our main goal with these funds is to better the league overall … and look to the future.”
Fall ball involvement is at an all-time high. There are around 450 total participants ranging from ages 6-12 who play baseball and softball. When Noel first started back in 2014, there were a total of three teams. But this year, the growth is at another level.
“It has almost turned into its own season. Fall ball has grown so much. We have three majors teams, three Triple-A teams, and all the way down to T-ball. We opened it (T-ball) last year, but now we finally have T-ball all the way up to majors in the fall,” he said.
There are players participating from all over the South Puget Sound. With there being softer boundary rules for fall ball, it gives Federal Way the opportunity to have more players.
“Since there are no all-star tournaments in the fall, Little League boundaries aren’t as strict, so players from all neighboring cities can come play for us. There are also teams from other leagues that come to play. South Highline Little League has a team in our fall ball league. They wear Federal Way shirts, but are from South Highline,” Noel said.
Noel said there isn’t really correlation between numbers in the fall versus numbers in the spring.
“But the correlation we can see is the kids who play fall ball improve their skills for the spring,” he said, “and become better ball players.”