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Fines likely for using illegal bats, balls

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Softball players using prohibited bats and balls at Simmons Park in Bethel Park could soon face fines.

The municipality is preparing an ordinance to allow for the fines after Clifton Road residents complained about softballs landing on the road and their property. Parked cars have also been struck, said resident Kathy Volk.

Of three fields at Simmons Park, one faces the road. Bethel Park Council President Tim Moury said softball players on that field have long been restricted to using limited-flight balls and single-wall aluminum bats, so their hits are less likely to sail past the outfield into the road and beyond. No other balls or bats are permitted.

Pat Dougherty, an organizer of the men's softball league, said Tuesday that there should be no further problems when the league's season begins next week. He said some players recently practicing at the field were using illegal balls and bats.

Balls being hit out of the park first became a problem in 1987, when players started using titanium bats, Dougherty said.

In addition to restrictions on equipment, some teams likely to hit balls out of the park regardless of the bat and ball limitations have been moved to other fields, Dougherty said. Players who violate the rules are removed for the season.

"Hopefully, this will put an end to it," he said. "I've done everything I could."

Moury said the municipality will move quickly to adopt the new ordinance. He said anyone using prohibited equipment on the field -- not only those who hit a ball out of the park -- could face a fine. The amount of a fine has not been determined. Teams that use the field and violate the rules could also have their permits revoked.

Volk, who has lived in her Clifton Road home for 23 years, said she has never had a ball land on her property but is concerned for her neighbors. She also fears a ball could hit a moving vehicle and cause an accident.

"I don't want to see anybody hurt," she said. "Hopefully, everything will be straightened out."

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