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PAA sees spike in interest

The Poplarville Athletic Association is halfway through its softball and baseball seasons after interested community members came out in droves to sign up their children for the league.

PAA Secretary Martin Walker said there were more than 300 athletes that wanted to take part in the season as COVID-19 case numbers go down and restrictions loosen.

While there could be several factors leading to the higher number of players, the fact that the past year has seen residents forced out of normal habits and away from social gatherings means the opportunity to play baseball and softball was too good to pass up.

“I think that’s definitely part of it. Right when we opened up we had people saying the kids were looking to get out of the house. I think another reason we got so many people is because neighboring towns weren’t able to get their teams together. We got some of their players down here playing for us,” Walker said.

Walker said providing an atmosphere for players and parents alike to socialize and see long time friends was another factor in deciding to have a season.

The warm reception and high turnout shows just how eager the local community was to have some sense of normalcy.

“Honestly it seems like every night we have games the park is overloaded with people, it’s been pretty good. A lot of kids don’t have a lot of outlets to get out and meet people. Getting in them all on the field gets them introduced to new people and also people they knew before and get along with,” Walker said.

The games will run until the first week of June when an end of season tournament will take place to wrap up the season.

Walker said that while the games allow the athletes a chance to have fun and meet new people, there are other lessons the young players learn as part of the league.

“There are a bunch of kids that don’t get to experience that at home or at school, so it’s a different experience out there to work as a team to achieve a goal,” Walker said.