Year of changes, progress for De Soto baseball association
De Soto Youth Baseball Association Commissioner Don Clark saw a lot of progress during his first year as the organization's leader.
This year's DYBA board was comprised of many different members compared to last season's executives. Michelle England and Robin Heath served as vice commissioners while Jenny Haralson took over Clark's former position of treasurer. Kelly Lahr worked as the uniform manager and Doug Cooke was the Woodsonia Representative. The Board was pleased to see the high level of participation this season; 350 kids between the ages of 5-14 played in the DYBA this season.
Clark was pleased with the organization and its ability to work in conjunction with De Soto Parks and Recreation Director Jay Garvin. Ron Willhite cleaned up a lot of the baseball fields and prepared them so games could be played there, Clark said.
"We spent money to improve the fields and to create fences for the T-ball fields," Clark said. "We also got a new pitching machine for the league. It was one of the best seasons on the field for the league."
On the field, DYBA teams faired well and younger teams qualified for tournaments in neighboring communities. The 7- and 8-year-old boys team traveled to Baldwin, while several others, including 9-10 and 11-12 boys and 10-and-under girls played at Eudora. The 7th and 8th grade baseball league hosted an all-star game for the first time in recent years.
"Our goal for next year is to increase the size of the league," Clark said. "We want the competitive teams to be a part of De Soto baseball."
Clark said it was encouraging to see teenagers and young adults becoming more involved with umpiring in the league. This season, the T-ball players had umpires in the league for the first time.
Another significant change for the DYBA this season was the expansion of control over both softball and baseball. As a result, board member Lawrence Davis served as the softball representative.
"It was a very successful year from what I have heard from everybody," Clark said. "We were getting baseball back to the way it was in De Soto."
In the future, Clark would like to see the board work even more closely with the city to attain its goals.
"We are focused on the parks, lighting, good quality coaching and a competitive league," Clark said. "We have to keep in mind that this is for the kids. We need to get people in the community to realize that the board is made up of volunteers and to get the city more involved with daily operations."
On Aug. 14, the DYBA will hold an awards banquet where all teams under 10 years old will receive trophies. The organization will have its main fundraiser, an annual golf tournament at the Oak Country Club in De Soto, Aug. 18.