Marching into Kasting Park sporting their district champions banners, 14 of the best Little League Baseball teams in the state readied for the biggest 10-to-11-year-old baseball tournament in Indiana.
It doesn’t get any bigger for these kids. This is the title tournament, the highest accolade for the age group.
On Tuesday, teams from across the state trekked to Seymour for the 2015 10-to-11-year-old State Baseball Little League Tournament.
The day commenced with a parade starting at the gates of Kasting to the field, where each squad stood on the diamond with their teammates.
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Teams came from as far as Dyer, Mishawaka, Wabash and Fort Wayne.
Qualifying teams won their respective district tournament to make state.
As the teams entered the field, Seymour Youth League President Jay Hubbard read the teams’ rosters.
Following a presentation of the colors by American Legion Post 89 in Seymour prior to the national anthem, five first pitches were thrown by members of the community.
Pool-play began later that day.
Each team played three games from Tuesday to Thursday.
The top-two teams from each pool advanced to the single-elimination tournament that began yesterday.
The quarterfinals and semis will take place today and the championship is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.
“A lot of folks are familiar with the 11-12-year-olds who travel to the Great Lakes and then to Williamsport (for the Little League World Series),” Hubbard said. “For these kids, this is it for them. This is the ultimate prize. The state championship is the top honor.”
The city of Seymour is benefiting greatly from the tournament.
Parks and Recreation Athletic Director Jason Kleber predicted more than 840 people would stay in Seymour during the pool play stages.
Teams have whittled down as the single-elimination portion has taken place.
Both the Parks and Rec department and the board for Seymour Youth League’s worked together to make the tourney happen.
“The economy benefits huge from something as long as this,” Kleber said. “You don’t play a game and go home, you come in and potentially stay for five days. To me, this might have the biggest economic impact from anything (Parks and Rec has) done this year. The number of teams that actually stay is huge.”
Jane Hays, of the Jackson County Visitors Center, estimated the city will bring in at least $216,000 from hotels, food and gas during the tournament.
The lone team that wouldn’t stay in Seymour during the tournament was Bedford, the District 14 winners.
Due to inclimate weather during the past couple weeks, including major flooding, the Parks and Rec department had to work feverishly to get Kasting Park ready for the little league.
“We wanted to make it as pristine as we can,” Kleber said. “The rain was the biggest issue. The grounds crew have been spending a lot of time getting this ready. The crew did a fantastic job. Normally, we would have a full week to set everything up. With the rain, we didn’t get everything together until (Monday) night. Everything got lined up and now we’re just playing baseball.”
The facilities, which contain four diamonds, two which work for Little League, rank amongst some of the best for little league.
“I think we have as good facilities as anyone,” Hubbard said. “Kasting Park is large and there’s a lot of room to sit. Our grounds crew has worked phenomenally over the past couple of weeks to get it ready. We’re proud of it and we hope everyone has a good time here.”
While Seymour hosts the district tournament, it has never accommodated the state championships.
“Seymour Youth League played a big part in getting this event here,” Kleber said. “They have run district here for years, and we finally were able to make this happen. They got it lined up back in January.”
Hubbard said that the tournament is a positive experience for the community, and it took a real team effort to put everything together.
“Its been a little hectic the past couple of weeks, trying to get roster, T-shirt orders, team information and hotels booked,” Hubbard said. “Its been a team effort. There have been a lot of guys who have been instrumental. This is big for Seymour,” he said.
Teams traveling to the 2015 10-11 Little League State Baseball Tournament:
North Terre Haute
What: 2015 10-11 Little League State Baseball Tournament Championship game
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Kasting Park, Seymour