BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO — Owego Little League will host the New York State Little League Baseball 10U Championships for the next three years, beginning with the 2019 tournament.
This year’s event will be held July 20-27 at historic Hyde Park.
Executive board member Jim Loftus made the announcement Friday evening at a press conference held at the Owego Elks lodge.
Following district and section qualifying tournaments, eight 10U teams will converge on the state-of-the-art complex seeking a berth in the regional championships.
The tournament should provide a nice boon to the community as teams from Buffalo to Long island will converge on Owego, bringing family and friends to stay at local hotels and eat at local restaurants.
Earning an opportunity to host a tournament of this caliber has taken years of hard work and dedication by numerous volunteers, a commitment which has not gone unnoticed in the community.
“Over the years there’s been a tremendous amount of people amount of people involved in getting us to this point,” Loftus said.
Numerous businesses and community members have been involved with the organization since its inception in 1952. Over the years, Owego Little League has expanded and the complex is now home to three baseball fields and a softball field, as well as a field dedicated to T-Ball and a field dedicated to Teener League. There are also two batting cages and three practice pitching mounds.
In 2017, lights were installed on Jim Raftis Memorial Field, allowing the league to play any time of day from April to October. Lights were added to Jim Beauter Field and Dick Franz Field in 2018. The latest upgrade project, which is currently underway, involves replacement of all the dugouts.
Loftus also said further upgrades are being planned through a grant process, to include improvements in parking areas and replacement of outfield fences.
“That’s all exciting when all this is done,” he said. “It won’t get done, necessarily, maybe before this first year, but definitely in the next two years we’ll have a pretty impressive, upgraded (facility).”
League president Scott Rollison noted that Maine-Endwell Little League threw its support behind Owego Little League once M-E learned it did not have the facilities required to host the tournament. Owego also impressed the people who decided where the tournament would go.
“They could have very simply let it go back to Albany where it was, but they recognized what a special facility it is, what a special group of people we are hosting it and that’s how we got it,” Rollison said.
The ultimate goal is to bring the Major 10-12 Baseball state championships here and a successful 10U tournament run could help Owego Little League accomplish that feat. The league will rely heavily on volunteers to help put together three years of quality tournaments.
Community representatives will be meeting April 23 to form a volunteerism committee. More information will be released as it becomes available. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on volunteer opportunities.
Check out the Owego Little League website at www.owegolittleleague.com, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OwegoLL and on Twitter at @OwegoLL.
IN PHOTO: Some of the community members expected to be involved with supporting the 2019 New York State Little League Baseball 10U Championships.
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