NWI is next spot for major Midwest tournaments
By Mike Clark Post-Tribune correspondent June 30, 2012 11:08PM
Updated: August 2, 2012 10:47AM
Youth baseball teams around the area are just beginning postseason play, but some administrators already are looking ahead to next summer’s playoffs.
That’s because Northwest Indiana could be the destination for hundreds of players, coaches and family members from all over the Midwest and beyond in 2013.
Two major tournaments already are confirmed to be coming here and another could be on the way as well.
Babe Ruth Baseball will hold its Cal Ripken 12-year-old/60-foot bases World Series at the Hammond Optimist complex. Also, the organization’s Senior Babe Ruth Ohio Valley Regional for 17- and 18-year-olds will be hosted by the Porter County Storm at Chesterton High School.
“We worked on that for quite a few years,” Northern Indiana Babe Ruth Baseball commissioner Tom Wright said of the World Series. “That’s a big undertaking.”
Though Babe Ruth has brought national tournaments to central and southern Indiana in recent years, this is the first World Series to be played in the region on Wright’s watch, which dates back to the mid-’90s.
The Optimists got the event in part because the Cal Ripken 11-year-old Ohio Valley Regional they hosted in 2009 ran so smoothly.
Wright, who was in the area on Saturday for the formal signing of the Senior Babe Ruth Ohio Valley Regional contract, said the World Series will require an even greater level of coordination.
“You’re talking 30 volunteers every game,” he said.
The regional, which could bring teams in from as far away as West Virginia, also will be labor-intensive.
While planning is already underway for those events, Indiana District 1 Little League administrator Steve Heck is still working to bring one of that organization’s major tournaments to Portage.
Heck has his sights set on landing the Senior League (15-16) Central Regional here. The event, which is expected to relocate next summer after a long run in Wyoming, Mich., was last held in Northwest Indiana in the early ‘90s. (The Senior League World Series also was played here, with Gary’s now-defunct Junedale league serving as the host.)
With a proposal that includes generous team travel stipends and individual player awards, Heck said, “I think I’ve got a good shot (of having the winning bid).”
Notes: Valparaiso teams swept District 1’s two Little League tournaments for regular-season teams. The Lightning won the Taber tourney for 9- and 10-year-olds, while the Cardinals captured the Connors tourney for 11- and 12-year-olds. ... District 1 will host two Little League Baseball state tourneys this season: Big League (17-18) at the Portage Little League complex July 9-12 and Senior League (15-16) at the Portage Little League complex and Portage High School July 25-29.
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