KNLL SOFTBALL

What level should my child play?

Little League Playing Age

Use the Little League Playing Age Calculator to verify your player’s age for the 2020 Spring season; it should be the player’s age on December 31, 2019. Please note that the player’s Little League Age may not be the actual age of the player during registration, the Spring season, or All-Stars.

Please review the division descriptions below prior to registration to register your child for the appropriate and/or desired level of play. If you have further questions about a Division, please refer to the Local Rules Appendices or email playeragent.softball@kirklandnational.com

LOWER LEVELS

Tee Ball

Guided by the Little League Tee Ball Program, KNLL Tee Ball is tailored for entry-level players. Designed to provide a safe and fun introduction to the fundamentals of softball, players learn the basic concepts of catching, throwing, and hitting off a tee. There is no coach pitching in our Tee Ball division.

The target ages are Little League Age 4 to 6-year old players with no previous experience in an organized Tee Ball league. Ideal team sizes are 6-8 players to provide more individual coaching and keep players engaged in activity on the field. Parents should expect their player to participate in 2 one-hour events (practice/game) each week on Wednesdays and Sundays. Our regular season schedule starts the week after LWSD Spring Break and runs into the middle of June. Players are assigned to teams – see Lower Level Team Formation below.

A Division

Intended for second and third-year players, players Little League Age 5 and 6 must have prior Tee Ball experience to join this Division. Players Little League Age 7 may start here without prior experience. Players Little League Age 8 with no prior experience may be advised to start at A Division pending size and physical skills.

In A Division, players hit off live pitching (Coach Pitch) using 10” Safety Softballs. At the beginning of the season, each batter will receive up to 5 pitches to hit, then hit off a Tee. This ensures players develop their swing and put the ball into play for the fielders. Starting May 15th, each batter will receive 6 pitches to hit and then be considered “out” to teach this element of the game. Building on the basic concepts learned in Tee Ball, additional focus is on base running and team fielding techniques. Outs are enforced but not counted towards retiring the side as each team bats through their line-up every inning.

Ideal team size is 8-9 players. Players are assigned to teams – see Lower Level Team Formation below. Parents should expect their player to participate in 2-3 events (practices/games) each week with each event lasting between 1 ½ - 2 hours. Practices will start in March and our season will run until the middle of June. Division A Super Stars will be held on June 13th for players selected to the KNLL team.

AAA Division

AAA Division is designed for Little League Age 8 to 9-year old players with prior experience and 10-year old players new to organized softball. Players pitch to batters using 11” Safety Softballs. Umpires are now required. This division is Modified Player Pitch; after Ball 4 from a player pitcher, the batter’s Coach will pitch and finish the at-bat resulting in a strike-out or hit. When a pitcher “walks” 4 batters in an inning, the batting team’s Coach will stay out and Coach pitch for the remainder of the inning. Stealing is only allowed on passed balls as we want to encourage and reward catchers for blocking pitches. Starting May 1, runners may steal home but must slide when doing so. Outs are enforced and counted towards retiring the side.

Ideal team size is 10-11 players. Players are assigned to teams – see Lower Level Team Formation below. Parents should expect their player to participate in 2-3 events (practices/games) each week with each event lasting about 2 hours. Practices will start the beginning of March and our season will run until the middle of June. While there may be players who are age eligible for Little League All-Stars, KNLL does not consider AAA Division players eligible for All-Stars due to the significant rules changes and skill level that occurs in the 8-9-10 All-Stars tournament. Players are eligible for Division AAA Super Stars which will be held on June 13th for players selected to the KNLL Super Stars team.

UPPER LEVELS

Coast Division

Coast Division is designed as a stepping stone to Majors for experienced players Little League Age 10 and 11 and advanced 9-year old players. This division is an introduction to competitive softball but still maintains an instructional focus.

Typical team size is 12 players. Players are evaluated and drafted to teams – See Upper Level Evaluation Process below. Parents should expect about 3 events (practices/games) each week with each event lasting 2 – 2 ½ hours. The season concludes with playoff games if necessary and the City Championship held on June 13, 2020. Coast players are eligible for All-Stars and will have high consideration when forming the 10u All-Star team. Coast 11-year old players will have consideration for 9-10-11 All-Stars, but since this tournament is run using Majors rules (12” ball, 40’ pitching distance, third strike not caught, etc.), Majors players would have higher consideration over Coast players.

Majors Division

Majors division is designed for players Little League Age 11 and 12 but may include high-level 10-year olds. Teaching advanced concepts of softball on both offense and defense (third strike not caught), games use a 12” softball pitched from 40’ and 60’ base paths. While the skill and competition levels are increased at Majors, we still focus on developing pitchers and providing players with opportunities to get in games through KNLL’s minimum play rules.

Typical team size is 12-13 players. Players are evaluated and drafted to teams – See Upper Level Evaluation Process below. Parents should expect about 3 events (practices/games) each week with each event lasting 2 – 2 ½ hours. Majors players are eligible for All-Stars and will have high consideration when forming the 8-9-10, 9-10-11, and Little League (Majors) All-Star teams. Typically, there has not been a City Championship for Majors Softball, however we would hold one if interest and availability allowed.

Juniors Division

Juniors division is designed for players Little League Age 13 and 14, however 12-year old players may request to play up or dual roster for Juniors. Older players take priority, regardless of skill and 12-year old players will only be allowed to participate at Juniors if approved by both the Softball Player Agent and Vice President based on roster space availability. While the pitching distance is moved back to 43’ the rules, team sizes, formations, expectations, and All-Stars are the same as for Majors. Please note that because Kirkland and District 9 host the Juniors World Series, the winner of the Juniors District All-Star tournament typically receives an invitation directly into the World Series event.

Lower Level Team Formation

There is no evaluation process in the Lower Levels. Each player is assigned to a team based on their school or neighborhood. When school groups are larger than team sizes within a Division, they are split up to optimize team sizes and parity. Because registration numbers are never balanced within each school, please plan on your child playing with several kids from their school and meeting some new friends this season.

NOTE: Unlike other local, recreational youth sports, Little League Divisions are grouped by age and skill, not by grade. It is not uncommon for two kids in the same grade to play in different Divisions.

Each player is allowed one (1) friend / carpool request. This request must be reciprocal between two (2) players and made at the time of registration. For example, Player A requests Player K AND Player K also requests Player A. KNLL will do our best to honor reciprocal requests, but does not guarantee them. Please note that honoring reciprocal requests may cause a player to be on a team with no other friends from their school. There is no guarantee your child will be teamed with the same coaches or players from the previous season, nor have the same team name or uniform colors.

Upper Level Evaluation and Draft

All players Little League Age 9 and above must attend at least one Softball evaluation prior to the KNLL Draft. Organized by the Player Agent, experienced managers and coaches evaluate players on fielding, throwing, base running, batting, catching and pitching. Pitchers are drafted by blind serpentine draft based on their pitching evaluation scores. Catchers are then drafted in reverse blind serpentine draft based on their catching evaluation scores. Team strength is then averaged based on overall evaluation scores and the team with the lowest average starts the blind serpentine draft for all remaining players. As a group, the Division Managers make minor adjustments in an effort to ensure parity amongst every team. When all Managers are equally satisfied with being assigned to any team, they draw a number to determine their team assignment for the upcoming season.

We ensure each Manager has their child on his/her team and that siblings are placed on the same team. Managers do not get to pick players or pair up with other coaches prior to team formation. There are no friend or carpool requests in the Upper Levels. Managers will need to recruit Parent Volunteers from their team assignment to help with umpiring, coaching, scorekeeping, etc. All teams are disbanded at the conclusion of the season and the process starts over with new teams being formed next season.

Equipment Required

Parents need to supply a softball glove, uniform pants, belt, socks, and long sleeve undershirt. Softball cleats are highly recommended and must have rubber soles in Majors and below. The team manager will contact the parents to notify them of their uniform color scheme.

KNLL supplies each player with a jersey and hat. All teams are supplied with softballs, batting helmets, bats, catcher’s gear, and other items necessary for the level of play. This is shared equipment, so some parents may elect to purchase a softball bat or helmet for their player. If you do so, please ensure your selections comply with Little League and KNLL Local Rules prior to purchase. Also, do not make any alterations to equipment to ensure it will be eligible for use in Little League.