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HARD Softball League Brings Authentic Competition to the East Bay

Courtesy Noel Munivez

Christopher McBride
Assistant Sports Editor
March 22, 2012

Members of HARD’s softball league.

The Hayward Recreation and Parks District (HARD) softball league is set to enter their eighth season of providing authentic competition between men and women throughout the East Bay.

“I think what separates us from our counterparts and other agencies in this area is the customer service we provide. Typically, softball leagues doesn’t have a scorekeeper, so the umpire has to keep score and officiate the games,” said Noel Munivez, whose been a part of HARD for the past six years. “[We, on the other hand,] have a full scorekeeper, and operate with [more] umpires in our men’s divisions.”

After two years of operating under an independent contractor affiliated with the city of Hayward, the HARD softball league has been completely taken over by the parks district and their paid staff for the past eight years.

In their eight years of ownership, HARD has brought about positive growth and considerable expansion for the league.

The league currently offers a variety of slow and fast pitch divisions such as, men’s “C,” “D,” “E,” co-ed “C,” “D,” “E” and an all-women’s slow pitch league, according to the HARD sports website.
The “C” divisions are for teams seeking high level competition, while the “E” divisions are for recreational teams interested in just having fun.

Teams participating in the men’s/co-ed slow pitch and fast pitch divisions are charged an entry fee of $700 to $750, while the all-women’s slow pitch softball league cost $640 per team. Included in these entry fees, however, are expenses towards awards, umpiring, administrative staff cost and field maintenance.

There is a minimal of 10 games for the regular season and then playoffs for the top four teams. League games are held during evening hours Monday through Friday and are typically played at the respectable Alden E. Oliver Sports Park of Hayward.

Additionally, being one of the only leagues in the East Bay to have four newly developed fields in one complex has led to greater popularity for the HARD softball programs.

“The response we get from teams that have come over to Hayward [from disbanded leagues] is that our fields are gorgeous, they are well maintained and we offer them a lot of extras,” Munivez added.

Aside from gaining recognition from their players, the HARD softball league has also become a real niche for a lot of the businesses located in the city of Hayward.

For instance, though the league doesn’t require players to wear uniforms, some teams have been provided uniforms by their sponsors such as D&K trucking, Chili’s and Coliseum Lexus.

As the HARD softball league continues to gain popularity through their brand of competition, there are some significant things that they would like to address.

“We want to be consistent with offering a program at the lowest possible cost, so we can lower our own cost. Also, even though the product that we have right now is a great product, I think having more fields in the future would be great,” Munivez concluded.

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