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Senior softball in Charlotte offers several benefits for players in their golden years no matter the skill level

Charlotte-area seniors are part of a growing league of senior softball players.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Doctors have said for years that regular exercise is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, especially as you get older. While many choose to go to the gym, hundreds of seniors hit the softball fields.

Once a month, 19 teams gather at Hornet's Nest Park to play three games each. 

Bill Barrett, the president of Carolina Senior Sports, said he's proud of the organization, which is going into its 18th year next year.

"I played high school baseball and played baseball until I started having kids. And then I coached my kids," Barrett said. "I just didn't want to walk away. I walked into this league in year one, the year it started, and was part of that. I've been here ever since and love it."

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Jeff Weston, the commissioner of the Carolina Senior Softball League, told WCNC Charlotte that the gatherings are all about fellowship.

"You get to know everybody. There's no trophy at the end of the day," Weston said. "It's just an opportunity for us to play the sport that we love."

"The senior league is giving us guys a chance to play with people on our same level," Barry Boyd, another senior player in the Saturday league, said. "I mean, we can still play, but these younger guys and these bats they make these days, we can't keep up with that."

Other senior players in their golden years can play on Tuesdays and Thursdays depending on their age and skill level.

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"We have different competition levels," coach Keith Ratliff said. "We have a high level for my competition skilled players, and we also have lots of skilled players and everything in between. So anybody interested in playing senior softball we have a place for them."

"I play Thursday morning in the league they created for us people who are moving on to another generation," Ralph Vestuti said. "And I mean, I'm turning 80 next year."

While the love for the game remains, players agreed, the best part is the fellowship.

"I observe them having fun and enjoying each other's company," Ratliff said. "They're getting physical exercise and just making new friends and new relationships."

His wife, Vicki Ratliff, said it's a good time for the wives of players as well.

"It strengthens the community. Because whenever people are getting to know each other, and developing friendships, they come together when they need help, when there's a death," Vicki Ratliff said. "It's a good thing for the Charlotte community and definitely for this age group."

If you're interested in learning more about playing senior softball, click here for the Carolina Senior Softball Association.

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Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookX and Instagram.

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