City readies for tourney time
De Soto will swing into summer with a weekend full of baseball and softball.
Don Clark, president of the De Soto Youth Baseball Association, said 25 teams, including teams from De Soto in each age group, would vie for state championships here this weekend in tournaments sponsored by the United States Specialty Sports Association. A state tournament for 8-and-younger teams will be contested Saturday and Sunday at Miller Park, while tournaments for 11- and 12-year-old teams will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Sunflower ball parks.
"I'm waiting for one or two more confirmations today," Clark said. "We have teams from Platte City (Mo.) to Coffeyville. We had a very good showing in the 11- and 12-year-olds. It wasn't quite as good in the 8-and-under, primarily because of the number of leagues not using pitching machines. That kept our numbers down somewhat."
Games will start at 10 a.m. Friday at Sunflower and will continue at various diamonds until 6 p.m. Sunday.
Also this weekend, the city is sponsoring a Tri-County League 15-and-under girls softball tournament, said City Parks and Recreation Director Jay Garvin. That event, which will bring in teams from Eudora, Spring Hill, Gardner, Baldwin and Wellsville to compete against two De Soto teams, will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Miller Park.
Coordinating the many tournaments for the four ball fields available at Miller Park and Sunflower was quite a logistical challenge, Garvin and Clark said.
"The only thing now is to have enough people to cover everything," Garvin said. "We've been putting a lot of work out at Sunflower to get them looking good. The facilities are ready."Work started by De Soto USD 232 to upgrade the large Sunflower ballfield last year was completed by the city in the last few months, Garvin said. In addition, the small Sunflower field was rebuilt this spring from a practice field to a full-fledged diamond with new lights, fencing and red-shale infield.A community effort made the tournament possible, Clark said.
"We've had a number of groups step up," he said. "The De Soto Days (committee) will be selling shaved ice. The De Soto High School band will collect money at the gate for a trip to Dallas. The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are going to pick up trash."
The traveling teams, which Clark said sometimes brought as many as 75 people, were expected to give the local economy a midsummer boost. De Soto Chamber of Commerce Director Sara Ritter said the hotel should be full, restaurants occupied, and all retail businesses busy.
"It should be a good thing for De Soto," she said.
The DYBA will get the gate and concession profits from the state tournament, but Clark said that money will be plowed right back into the city's ball parks.
"We're not looking to maintain large budgets," he said. "We're looking to put back into the facilities. We're wanting to add lights to C field and batting cages out at Sunflower."
And for those who don't get their fill of diamond action this weekend, the Kaw Valley League 13- and 14-year-old divisions will start with the conclusion of the state tournaments, Clark said.