Players get Teed off at the ball field

Tina Harbuck
A Recess Rejects batter powers the ball off the tee as Teez Nuts (in green) battles Recess Rejects during their Thursday night Emerald Coast Social Sports adult teeball game in the rain at Jet Stadium.

Teeball is not just for the youngsters anymore, but for the young at heart.

Emerald Coast Social Sports, an organization based in Fort Walton Beach, has an Adult Teeball League.

Every Thursday about 19 teams, sporting some brightly colored T-shirts, take to the fields at Jet Stadium off Hollywood Boulevard for some friendly competition.

“Our team is really competitive,” said Blaine Watkins of team Balls-N-Dolls. “We like to win, but the social aspect is fun to make new friends.”

But make no mistake, “We are here to win, but we do like to have fun.”

Last year, Watkins’ team went undefeated during the regular season, but lost in the first round of the playoffs.

“We got a little big headed. We didn’t close out the season like we wanted to,” Watkins said.

This is the second year ECSS has offered Adult Teeball.

“This is a brand new league. We invented it last year,” said Matt Pacheco of ECSS.

“We were going to do whiffle ball,” Pacheco said, noting the group already has a dodgeball and kickball league. “We were trying to find something that basically everybody could do.”

One night when the group was playing dodgeball they just started hitting the ball around and thought “Let’s do Teeball.”

Adult Teeball is played very similar to kickball, but instead of kicking the ball you are hitting an 8-inch dodgeball off a tee with a bat.

The league is coed and you have to have four females on the team and players must be 21 and up.

“We basically use softball, baseball rules for the most part. The biggest difference is you can use the ball to take somebody out … just like in kickball,” Pacheco said.

Heath Bechtel of team Pink Sox played in the league last year and is back for more fun this season.

“It’s a great way to meet people and be social,” Bechtel said. “It’s social, competitive and funness (all wrapped up in one).

“It’s the one day of the week you can become a kid again,” Bechtel added, noting he played baseball as a kid.

Destin’s Ethan Randolph of Balls-N-Dolls came through the ranks of baseball as a kid at Dalton Threadgill Little League Park in Destin. And now he is taking a step back and enjoying his time in the Teeball league.

“All my friends are in the league,” Randolph said. “I love to compete, but this is fun and social. You still get to prove yourself.”

Kendra Stalls of Navarre played teeball as a kid and softball in high school. But when she saw that Adult Teeball was being offered, she jumped at the chance to play.

“I love it,” said Stalls, who plays on team Teez Nuts. “You don’t get to play anything as an adult, so when I saw this … it’s close enough to softball for me.”

Theresa Norton of team Inglourious Batters is a first-year teeballer.

“It’s a lot of fun and the people are really cool,” Norton said of the league.

Plus it gives her a chance for some “me time.”

“It gets me out and away from work and the kids. It’s a chance to meet new people … it’s my own thing,” Norton said.

And Thursday is the day with three to four fields in action from 6:30 to about 10 p.m.

“We have about 300 people in the league and probably about 400 a night, including those who come out to watch,” Pacheco said. “It’s a show and people have a good time. Again you are hitting off a tee and it brings back all those old school memories.”