Oil up that glove, dust off the bat, and buy new cleats. Senior Softball Beaufort is looking for you.
The league, which is in its second season, is recruiting former players of any experience who are 50 and older, and who remember how much fun it was to play in high school, college, rec leagues and military base teams.
Dave Hofmann, 71, is one of the co-founders who started the league in spring 2021.
“When we moved down here a little over two years ago, I was shocked to find there wasn’t a senior league, given the ages of the community,” said Hofmann. “I played competitive senior softball in Maryland and in tournaments on the East Coast. When I moved to Hilton Head, I had to play in the adult men’s league. I was playing with guys in their 60s but also 30s and 40s, and the games were at night. It just wasn’t a whole lot of fun.”
After that season ended, Hofmann, Rick Trenary and a few others got together and decided they were going to start a senior league that didn’t play at night and used “senior” rules.
The team they had been playing for was sponsored by Stokes Toyota, and had several older players. Hofmann said about nine of his teammates said they’d join a senior league if there was one, and soon after articles in the papers and word-of-mouth, the new league was registering 90 individual players.
“We had six teams and that shocked us,” he said. “We’d tapped into this resource and – outside of Sun City – there were no other senior teams in the area.”
The league was accepted as part of the Beaufort County Parks and Recreation Administration, and when the first season ended, there was a celebration, a trophy currently housed in the North End Pour House on Hilton Head, and an end-of-season ceremony attended by Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka.
There aren’t many women in the league, but Jean Heyduck, who played last year, said she is hoping to have more women join the league.
“My experiences have been great,” she said. “It’s so much fun to pick up your glove again and play. I played a lot when I was younger and then didn’t play. It’s been at least 20 years since I picked up a ball glove. We’re a little slower, can’t throw as hard as we did, but it’s still a lot of fun.”
Hofmann said he hopes to have two divisions: a Gold division that is more competitive, and the Silver division that would resemble the seasons played last year.
“It is still recreational, it’s still competitive and you still want to win. But there’s a lot of camaraderie and you have fun with the people in the other teams,” said Hofmann. “This is an opportunity that if they loved to play to come out and rekindle that joy of playing softball.”
The games are played with senior softball rules that include two first bases and two home plates.
“It’s safety first. We’re not a coed league – we’re a senior league and we welcome women as well as men,” he said. “We think we’re doing something good for the community, for the seniors. It’s all about moving – keep moving and have fun. When you’re on the field, you want to win, but if you don’t, it’s OK.”
Teams are comprised of 16 players who will play at least three innings. Conditioning, practices and scrimmages will begin on or about Feb. 19 to help current players stay active, and new players to meet current players, get a feel for the rules of senior softball, and understand how the league is run.
Individuals interested in playing need to register at seniorsoftballbeaufort.com.
The league is also looking for team sponsors. Sponsorship fees of $750 include the county team fee and uniforms with the sponsor’s name and logo, plus equipment as needed. If you’re a business interested in sponsoring a team, contact Rick Trenary at 843-247-2832.
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.