Monday, the Bartow County Parks and Recreation Department will kick off its youth softball, T-ball and baseball programs, which will involve about 1,700 students between ages 4 and 12.
"We stay pretty busy with this many kids," assistant director Brenton Baggett said. "It can be overwhelming at times, but it's great we are able to help so many play softball and baseball."
Baggett said the youngsters will start playing Monday at 6 p.m., and all the teams should play games before the week is over.
The recreation players will be joining counterparts with Bartow schools, the City of Cartersville Recreation Department and Little League.
Baggett said the BCPRD program includes 40 softball teams, with girls ages 5 to 12, and there are about 100 baseball teams -- including 29 T-ball teams -- with the same age groups of boys.
Each of those teams has about a dozen members. That doesn't include the umpires who call the games, the coaches who work with the youngsters and the volunteers who just help out when needed or concession stand personnel and grounds keepers.
Baggett said a lot of the coaches involved in the program have their own children on their teams but added some coaches don't have children playing and just like working with the youngsters.
He stressed Monday's start-up is not the start of the team's preparation for the season, though. "They have been practicing in the rain, and I imagine they are getting tired of that and are ready to play some games."
The games will be played Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, sometimes Friday and then all day Saturday at Hamilton Crossing Park and Manning Mill Park in Adairsville. Baggett said 16 of the parks' 19 fields will be used for the 12-and-under programs. He said the other fields will come in use later, when programs geared toward older youngsters -- 13 and over -- get started.
He said about 20 softball and baseball teams will start play later. When they start up, BRPCD facilities will be used by about 2,000 athletes.
Baggett said the Recreation Department programs seem to touch more with each season. "About every year it seems we add one or two T-ball teams or something."
Later in the summer, the department also will schedule late-summer play for youngsters who still haven't gotten enough ball.
That's not counting about 170 youngsters who began playing soccer in the spring. "That's been pretty exciting," Baggett said. "We have four teams in every age group."