KINGSTON, ONT. -- At Megaffin Park, the Kingston Colts are back in the swing of things, as the start of the new baseball season gets underway in the city.

Youth baseball has returned to the Kingston region, and under the pandemic the sport is proving more popular than ever. 

The Kingston Baseball Association (KBA) says that more than 600 players have signed up this season, ranging in age from 4 to 18 years old.

Jim Hunt, who is the senior vice-president of baseball operations, tells CTV News Ottawa that’s a few hundred more than last season.

Hunt says that he feels that’s because it’s a sport families can rally behind together.

"I think baseball puts families in a good state of mind," he explains. "It’s a family event. Kids, although it’s a team sport of nine, families can come around the field and enjoy watching their children play, and after 18 months of COVID it’s nice to get out on the field."

On Saturday, the Kingston Colts 16U team took to the field to play a game, one of the first they’ve played in two years, under COVID-19 restrictions.

Last year held a shortened season, and players were placed in a bubble of select teams, meaning there was no real season, explains 16-year-old Ethan Driscoll.

"It was tough. We played the same three teams all year. And so it was just the same spots every time and nothing really meant anything. But we’re in a real season this year. So we have something to win."

Now, they’re allowed to play games with teams from across the province. For Driscoll, he says it means getting back to the game he loves with his friends.

"Really excited. It’s good to be back in sports," he says. "The environment around the ball park is really cool. You get to hear the cheering, so you feel good when you get a hit and stuff."

Hunt says there are more than 32 house league teams and 10 representative teams, with kids coming from areas like Kingston, Napanee, Gananque and Wolfe Island.

"It’s amazing," he explains. "It’s a wonderful group of families we have the privilege to have with KBA. It’s great to get the kids out and get them some sort of normalcy."

For the player’s parents, that normalcy, is something to cheer about.

Sara Sutcliffe says her son, Ethan, is happy to be back.

"He’s happy and we’re all happy," she laughs. "We were like arguing about who was going to take him to practice because we were just so excited to get out of the house."

Maggie Duffy says seeing her son Liam with his friends and getting outside is the goal. 

"I’m absolutely ecstatic," she says. "For me and our family it’s about mental health. And him getting back into sports has increased his happiness like 100 per cent."

For players like 16-year-old Matt Mignault, just being able to start the season means it’s already a home run. 

"Just the feel of the game. Getting to meet new friends, getting to meet new people," says Mignault.