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The game goes on: Osceola Senior Softball League begins another annual winter season

Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 3:19 pm

By Ken Jackson
Sports Editor
The Osceola Senior Softball League has been around for around 25 years, but it started its eight-team winter season Monday without a mainstay.
Ann Viti, wife of league founder Leo Viti, passed away in May. While Leo is no longer as active with the organization as he would like to be, his name and fingerprints are still all over the long-running league.
Monday’s Opening Day festivities at the Fortune Road Athletic Complex carried more of a somber tone as Carlos Soto, who passed away in the dugout right after one of the league’s pickup games on July 28, was also remembered.
“We’re like a family here,” said Arturo Rodriguez, a longtime player in the winter league who’s sitting this season out as he awaits foot surgery but read a blessing at Monday’s opening. “We play together, we laugh together, and sometimes we cry together.”
But after that, after the eight teams of 13 players each, were introduced, it was time to living and breathing, to hitting and running, on the overcast but not-too-cool morning, once all the teams were together and on the proper fields. Opening day was postponed from Jan. 3, which was wet, chilly, and just no good for softball.

News-Gazette Photo/Martin Maddock
Rental World and Allstate play Monday on Opening Day of the Osceola Senior Softball League at the Fortune Road Athletic Complex.

“This is like herding cats sometimes,” said current league president and Pinch-A-Penny team manager Mike Rodriguez. But he said it with a “this beats sitting around the house” smile.
The players come from all over the county, and even from Orange County. Many also play together on competitive over-60 and over-70 leagues around the state,
“This is like playing pickup games with your friends,” Rodriguez said.
There is a championship and trophies to be won, but the league is devoted to providing an outlet for active seniors to stay in shape both physically and mentally while playing a game they love. As a result, strong and long-lasting friendships form, as evidenced Monday morning as players arrived for the opening ceremonies.
All players who turn 55 during the calendar year are welcome regardless of skill level. While it’s an important number to this league, age is just a number, especially to Del Babb, Pinch-A-Penny’s catcher, a league veteran who just turned 91 — there was a cake on hand for him Monday — and gets around just fine.
The winter league has a sponsorship deal with VITAS Hospice and Palliative Care of Central Florida, and had its community liaison, Gloria Puerto, throw out Monday’s ceremonial first pitch.
“We promote and encourage seeing seniors active,” she said. “It’s inspirational for all generations. It’s amazing to see how this group keeps going, and it gets families out to be together.”
After the winter league concludes, pickup games are played Monday and Friday from mid-March to December at Denn John Softball Complex in Kissimmee sometime after 9 a.m. On Wednesday there is batting and fielding practice at 8:45 followed by a 10 a.m. pickup game.
Honoring the founder, the Leo Viti Fall League is played one day per week during September and October on Monday or Fridays.
For information on the Osceola Senior Softball League, go to or contact Rodriguez at 772-359-8415.