The Waxahachie Youth Baseball Association released its 2016 spring baseball and softball registration and opening dates on Friday.

The WYBA, a non-profit sports association, was created to allow the youth athletes of Ellis County an opportunity to play baseball and softball year-round and as preparation for the rigors of high school baseball.

“It’s the start and the foundation of baseball. It helps gives them a fun environment to learn the fundamentals every great athlete has,” said Chim Curry, the Optimist Fields and the WYBA Classic director. “Most importantly, the league ensures every kid from Ellis County and throughout the state who wants to play baseball or softball gets that chance.”

Curry said he and other WYBA staff members expect more than 1,200 boys and girls from the cities of Waxahachie, Midlothian, Red Oak and Maypearl to comprise the 60-70 teams that will spread across 12 different divisions and compete for each’s coveted championships.

They have had 300 players sign up as of Saturday.

The WYBA baseball and softball leagues, which will be divided into 3-4-year-old, 5U-8U and 9U-15U divisions for boys and 3-4-year-old, 5U-9U and 10U-16U divisions for girls, still need coaches and assistant coaches to help mentor and lead the players, Curry said.

“We have about 20-25 that are committed, but we really need 50-60 more to volunteer their time,” he said. “There’s been a boom in the number of signups, especially in softball, over the last couple of years and a definite raise in the competition level. I think the girls have spread it by word of mouth and they realize how fun it is to play with and against girls from all over the county.”

Players and parents interested in playing youth baseball or softball can register online at www.wybaonline.org or visit the Optimist field concession stand between Feb. 20 and March 1.

Proceeds taken from registration is used for the care and upkeep of Optimist Fields, donated to charity and provided as a scholarship for Waxahachie students.

Both seasons, which will run between six and eight weeks, will begin on April 2 and April 9, respectively.

On March 5, all registered players are invited to a coaches evaluation, where each player will be assessed and placed on a team of the upcoming season.