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Giants look to boost participation in softball

MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants elected to integrate MLB's Play Ball initiative with its celebration of Girls Day at AT&T Park on Sunday.

The Giants Community Fund's Jr. Giants program is a free, non-competitive and coed summer league in underserved communities primarily in Northern California. Leagues have also expanded to Nevada and Oregon. This season, the Jr. Giants launched a softball league to complement its baseball league.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants elected to integrate MLB's Play Ball initiative with its celebration of Girls Day at AT&T Park on Sunday.

The Giants Community Fund's Jr. Giants program is a free, non-competitive and coed summer league in underserved communities primarily in Northern California. Leagues have also expanded to Nevada and Oregon. This season, the Jr. Giants launched a softball league to complement its baseball league.

On Sunday, the Giants used MLB's Play Ball initiative as a platform to help increase the number of girls who participate in Jr. Giants softball. About one-third of the 24,000 Jr. Giant players are girls, and the organization's goal is for that to increase to 50 percent by 2020.

"Play Ball is there to help support us and we're here to help afford kids the opportunity to play baseball and softball," said San Francisco Giants player and community relations manager Bobby Baksa. "We started this new softball program and we want families to know [about it]."

Before first pitch on Sunday at AT&T Park, Girl Scouts from the Bay Area were welcomed in the outfield, and softball players and coaches from Stanford University, Santa Clara University and San Jose State University were honored at home plate.

Additionally, the organization created a co-branded softball labeled with both the Jr. Giants and MLB's Play Ball logo. About 1,000 girls scouts received the softball and the other 2,000 will be used for the Jr. Giants to promote their softball initiative.

Each season, the Giants partner with Bawsi and Coaching Corps to support girls in sports throughout the Bay Area. 

"Our big goal is to involve more girls," Baksa said. "Including softball can help us reach our goal of 50 percent involvement by 2020."

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants