When the lights come on at Morrison Ballpark, families flock to the fields. It’s been a staple for decades and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
The Morrison softball leagues are running full-steam ahead, with games packing the stands four nights a week. John Duncan, who has helped organize the league for several years, has seen the popularity of the community league grow in recent seasons, a great sense of pride for the Morrison area.
“The season is going really, really well. We’re actually up a few teams compared to last year,” said Duncan. “We have kids out from the age of 2 all the way up to our girls, who can play until they’re 21. It’s a great time.”
Family is a word used a lot around Morrison. Whether it is a new generation of players suiting up each year or the atmosphere in and around the fences, Duncan wants it to be a family environment.
“We make it very family-orientated,” said Duncan. “We’re a smoke-free facility and we don’t permit foul language. If games get out of hand, the umpires take control. If we have to, we’ll kick people out.
“I think people have learned that if you’re coming out, you have to act right. It’s always a friendly place.”
Leanne Morrison can attest. Morrison spent her teenage years on the field, building a love for softball. Now she devotes her weeknights guiding her kids or instructing others.
When Morrison is not working with her sons, she’s trying to keep control of other youngsters as an umpire.
It doesn’t always work out as she hoped, but Morrison can always count on leaving with a smile on her face.
“It’s fun to see the kids catch on and learn new things. They always keep us laughing,” said Morrison. “Just recently, we had a kid stop the ball and I told him to go tag a runner. He threw the ball down and went and tagged her with his hand like we were playing a game of tag. He was so proud.”
Keeping it light-hearted and fair starts before the games even begin. Duncan makes sure the leagues stay competitive, working closely with coaches on draft nights to balance the talent.
“If you have one team winning every game, where is the fun in that?” said Duncan. “Our draft is different – there’s no reserved players and we keep an eye on how many players come with coaches. There’s no stacking teams.”
Fans can catch games any weeknight except Wednesday, which serves as the lone night off. First-time visitors can expect to be greeted with warm smiles and the mouth-watering aroma of hamburgers. They’ll likely leave with plenty of new friends.
It’s what Morrison softball is all about.