Tourney extends youth season
In past years, De Soto Youth Baseball Association teams saw their season come to an end all too soon.
This season, however, De Soto's boys of summer will have the opportunity to play for a little hardware during an extension of their season at the Single A United States Specialty Sports Association Kansas State Baseball Tournament this weekend.
In all, baseball players from 27 teams ranging in ages from 6- to 18-years-old hit, pitched and ran their way around the base pads for DYBA teams with hopes of being a part of a state championship team this summer.
That number is up from the 24 teams that played last season and the 22 teams that competed in the league in 2001.
The improved numbers during the past two seasons were all it took to convince DYBA board member Michelle England that the season was a success.
"To me, seeing more kids come out is what really sticks out in my mind," England said, summing up the 2003 season. "With all of the improvements we're making, I hear more and more people saying instead of going out to 3 and 2 or heading out of town they're staying in town to play.
"As the league gets bigger and bigger people are also saying that baseball is going back to the way it was a few years ago in De Soto."
DYBA President Don Clark said the growth would likely prompt further change. The association would like to add a competitive division to compliment the current recreational divisions next year, he said.
The DYBA used a standings format to determine its league winners. Those results were not available to The Explorer by press time, but England was quick to point out that most age divisions were decided by just a game or two.
Aside from the De Soto teams that played against each other in the different age divisions, the league also offered some of the older players an opportunity to play in the Kaw Valley League against the likes of Tonganoxie, Bonner Springs, Basehor-Linwood and Lansing.
Tonganoxie offered three teams to the league, while Basehor-Linwood, De Soto and Lansing each had two teams in the 10-team league.
Any of the teams that play in the league and are sanctioned by the USSSA will be allowed to participate in the state tournaments this weekend.
In all, 47 sites will play host to 365 teams in 11 different age divisions.
De Soto was awarded the Single 'A' 8-and-under, 11-and-under and 12-and-under state tournaments, which will give seven local teams the home-field advantage this weekend.
De Soto Feed and Grain, the Sharks and the Blue Gators will represent De Soto in the 8-and-under division. In the 11-and-under bracket, De Soto will rest its hopes on the Scrappers.
The 12-and-under age division will be led by the hometown favorites the Gators, Jim Cannon Trucking and the De Soto Ravens.
USSSA representatives said that 24 teams would be present at the De Soto portion of the tournament.
According to Wally Fortuna, Kansas State Director for USSSA Baseball, De Soto was chosen as tournament host because of the support and loyalty it had shown USSSA baseball in the past.
"It's a way for us to give back to those communities," Fortuna said. "We want to reward them by giving them the opportunity to create revenue for their towns and baseball teams."
The tournament could start as early as Thursday and is expected to run throughout the weekend.
The 11-and-under and 12-and-under age divisions will be played at Sunflower Fields while the 8-and-under teams will do battle at Miller Park on Field 'B.'