This note was written by a league player. It is a good discussion about why someone might want to join our league. If you know someone who wants to join, feel free to copy this into e-mail or send them a link to this page.
I play every Tuesday and Thursday morning in a softball league in North County. This is my favorite of all-time of several leagues I've played in. I like it because of the low cost and unique format. I'd like to invite you to join us. Want to try it out?
North County Senior Softball League-Competitive Division (NCSS)
NCSS is a slow-pitch (6- to 12- foot arc) softball league for men over age 50 who play softball every Tuesday and Thursday. It's called the competitive division because many years ago two divisions split into separate leagues, one for more recreational players and one for competitive players (the one in which I play). The rec league, http://www.ncseniorsoftball.net/, usually comes up first in Google searches. Players are typically more interested in the social aspect of the game. Rules are tempered a bit - for example, players can run past bases without penalty and there are no tag plays; they can even get a runner from home plate. It is for the less serious athlete. It's often called the "lower league" (not a respectful term) due to a lower quality of play.
Our competitive division - https://www.ncss-cd.com/ - has normal softball rules with a few local rules, mostly related to safety. For example, we always require pitchers to pitch from behind a screen so they won't get hit by a batted ball. That's important because we play with livelier "Rock" balls and allow more responsive SSUSA (1.21.BPF) senior bats instead of the 1.20 ASA bats. In my opinion balls hit with the "hot" SSUSA bats travel perhaps 50 feet further (and also quicker to the pitcher's body, hence the screens).
NBC 7/39 aired a story about our league in April 2013 (I was out with a broken ankle and didn't get into it) entitled "Seniors Hit Home Runs." It tells the story and shows some of the current players. You can watch the two-minute video here: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/on-air/as-seen-on/201375401.html. There was also a more recent story of interest in the Coast News at https://thecoastnews.com/sports-talk-sports-break-out-around-north-county-for-people-of-all-ages/.
NCSS currently has six teams and plays nearly all games at Stagecoach Park in La Costa (3420 Camino de los Coches, Carlsbad CA 92009). Other fields we have used and may use again when Stagecoach is not available are:
Stagecoach Park, Carlsbad (almost all games since 2014)
Alga Norte Community Park, Carlsbad (when Stagecoach not available)
Aviara Park, Carlsbad (when Stagecoach not available)
Bradley Park, San Marcos (last played 2015)
Brengle Terrace, Vista (last played 2014)
Calavera Hills, Carlsbad (rarely, last played 2015)
Hollandia Park, San Marcos (last played 2018)
- Poinsettia Park, Carlsbad (when Stagecoach not available)
Most players play every Tuesday and Thursday, but some opt to play Tuesday-only or Thursday-only. We try to assign an equal number of such players to each team. We also declare "pick up games" that don't count in the standings every time we have a large number of players off playing in tournaments. That way those not on tournament teams still have a place to play every Tuesday and Thursday.
All players are issued two uniforms and wear the blue ones when visiting team and white ones when home team. That way uniforms don't need to be changed out when teams change.
On game days at 9:15 am we have batting practice for 30-45 minutes before each game for those who desire (more than 90% participate). Games start at 10:00 am and usually last until 11:45 or 12:00 noon. A really slow pitcher might drag a game out later, but that's rare.
Teams play for seasons of approximately 25 games (three months) and then are re-selected each quarter with a formula based on player ratings to promote competitive balance. Changing teams 3-4 times a year, you never get stuck on a losing team or with a bad teammate. All players quickly get to know one another since the teams are different each season. Teams had been chosen at random and manually balanced by managers, but since 2015 we have used a more detailed selection system. Basically all players are rated for their abilities in hitting, power, running, throwing and defense. Top-rated players are computer-assigned to each team at random, then next-rated players and finally lowest rated players to ensure each team has a similar skills balance. We categorize players by pitchers, shortstops and outfielders to ensure each team has an equal number at those critical positions. Conventional wisdom now has it that the team whose best players show up more often are the ones that win. It is not unusual for four or five teams to be within a game or two of one another the last week of the season.
Cost to Play
You can play in this league forever at near-zero cost (that's why I like it). Once a year we sponsor a tournament that may bring in 12-24 teams from all over California and Arizona. Their entry fees, raffle ticket purchases and food concessions make enough money for everyone in the league to play "free." Free is in quotes because all players are required to work one of the days (e.g. be an umpire, field maintenance or work in concessions) at our tournament or can opt out by paying $100 in lieu of working.
There is a one-time initiation fee of $100 to play in NCSS.
How do you join?
It's easy. Choose one of the following:
Just show up at Stagecoach Park on any Tuesday or Thursday morning between 9:00 and 10:00 for a pre-game batting practice
Join a public open batting practice 8:30 am Sundays at Alga Norte Park (currently by appointment only).
Contact the commissioner, Jim Dionne at 206-459-5560 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fill out the contact form on our web site (https://www.ncss-cd.com/contact).
You will be asked to attend a tryout, and once accepted, sign a waiver and placed on a team that is short of players that day and maybe again for another game or two, then permanently assigned to a team. Before being assigned to a team, you will be asked to bring a check for $100 payable to North County Senior Softball (NCSS) and you will be issued your two uniforms and a hat.
That's it. A good mix of good, younger players and some older players. The league average is around 67 years old since most under-65 players are working during the week. Most live in San Diego North County but there are some players who travel here from Orange and Riverside counties because they prefer this unique format. Some of our Thursday-only players play in a league in Santee on Tuesdays, and many also play Sundays in La Costa 35 Athletic Club. North County Senior Softball-Competitive Division is an outstanding league to play in – the best I've ever seen.