Back to Bats: Neighborhood Softball League Promotes Community, Engages Girls of All Ages

Claire Schallenberg, Business Manager

The Hillcrest Neighborhood is commonly known for it’s historic houses, boutique shopping, hipster vibes, and it’s amazing snow cone stand, Cajun Sno, that provides a much needed refresher during Arkansas’ hot summers. However, one lesser known attraction of the neighborhood is the Hillcrest Neighborhood Softball League that takes place at the Allsop Park softball field Monday through Thursday nights.

Hillcrest Neighborhood softball has provided a recreational sports outlet for girls in central Arkansas ranging from the ages of six to eighteen. It first began in 1984 with only one team, and today continues with fourteen teams, three divisions, and over 190 players. It has become an event to look forward to for many of the girls that play.

“Hillcrest softball is one of the highlights of my week,” freshman Lydia Schallenberg said. “It gives me a reason to take a break from my homework and go outside and enjoy the spring weather.”

The league is split into Junior, Senior, and Teen Divisions. The Teen Division, which includes players ages thirteen to eighteen, has become one of the smallest divisions, but has a steady following due to Hillcrest Softball’s relaxed mentality. The games missed due to rain are never made up and practice is not required for any team, much to the dismay of the younger players who live and breath Hillcrest Softball. For the players in the Teen Division, the league is really just for fun and there really is no excuse not to play.

“We only play games and that is what makes it fun,” senior Annie Hagemeier said. “In the Teen Division, there are only two teams, so you become friends with the people on the other team, and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose because everyone goes out to just have a good time.”

Hillcrest Softball is sustained by the efforts of volunteers in the community. Each team in the league is sponsored by a different local business,such as the Rhea Drug “Side Effects” and the All Aboard “Spring Trainers.” The support from the community, local merchants, and civic organizations are essential to the continuation of the league.

“When I was a little boy, people in the community would sponsor my baseball teams, and it always warmed my heart to see the community’s involvement in my team, so this is my way of doing the same for our community,” sponsor Vince Schallenberg said. “I also like being able to support an organization solely for the young women in our society.”

Hillcrest Softball prides itself on being open to all girls in the central Arkansas area, regardless of race, creed, or national origin. It is an organization that bring girls of all different ages together to learn how to work as a team.

“Hillcrest Softball is empowering because it creates a safe space for young girls to learn, make mistakes, and grow from them, senior player Alex Pickell said. “It’s nice because most of the spectators are parents who cheer on both teams, and everyone is supportive of each other. Playing a game is like taking a little break from the judgemental world we live in everyday to have some fun with our peers.”

Hillcrest Softball is a great program, and more people should take advantage of this organization. It has potential to grow and influence more people’s lives, even if it is just enjoying Arkansas spring outside for a couple hours a week.