Little League regional back in GJ with new division

The advent this year of an Intermediate (50/70) Division in Little League Baseball provided Grand Junction an opportunity to do something it hasn’t done in a while: host a Little League regional.

Beginning today, the Grand Mesa Little League fields will be the site of the Southwest Regional, which brings teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico to town, plus two Colorado teams, including host Monument Little League.

Today’s games are:

■ 10 a.m. — Cherry Creek Little League vs. Gallup Youth Baseball of Gallup, N.M.

■ 5 p.m. — Floyd Gwin Little League of Odessa, Texas vs. Post Oak Little League of Houston. Floyd Gwin represents Texas West, and Post Oak represents Texas East.

■ 8 p.m. — Shreveport Little League of Shreveport, La. vs. Tulsa Little League of Tulsa, Okla.

Monument drew a first-round bye in the seven-team field, which could have been nine teams, but Arkansas decided not to make the trip, and Mississippi did not implement the Intermediate Division this year.

The champion of the tourney, which runs through Wednesday and possibly Thursday, advances to the division’s World Series, July 30–Aug. 5 in Livermore, Calif.

The Intermediate Division is better know as 50/70 because the mound is moved back to 50 feet from the plate, instead of the 46 feet at the lower levels of Little League, and the base paths are 70 feet between bases, instead of 60 feet. The players, who are ages 11 to 13, are also allowed to lead off and steal bases, and pitchers can pick off runners or be called for balks.

Grand Mesa Little League District Administrator Dana Palmer said she believes this is the first Little League regional hosted by Grand Junction in six or seven years.

She presented a bid to host the tourney to the Southwestern Region, and Grand Mesa received it. Then came a surprise, something Palmer didn’t encounter the last time Grand Junction hosted a regional: Businesses were much tighter with their money when she asked them for help, be it reduced rates at hotels and restaurants or monetary donations to offset the cost of hosting the tourney.

Palmer understands the economic times are tougher than they were when Grand Junction last hosted a regional. That was before the oil and gas industry slowdown that started to take hold in late 2008, coupled with a national recession. Grand Junction’s economy may be improving, but it isn’t booming like it was in the middle of the previous decade.

Still, Palmer was discouraged by the lack of help she was able to garner from businesses. Yet, she was thankful for the ones that stepped forward, such as the five major sponsors: FCI Constructors, Home Loan & Investment Company, the Junior College World Series Committee, Pepsi and Ed Bozarth Chevrolet.

Palmer said Grand Mesa Little League also received some service donations, including: Western Implement, Barnes Electric, Roberts Plumbing & Heating and CC Enterprises.

Palmer said Grand Mesa Little League still is trying to get more donations — “Even $25 helps,” she said — and she can be reached at 250-5199.

Palmer estimated it will cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to host the regional.

Regardless of the cost and the amount of work it requires to host a regional, she said, “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s fun.”

And Palmer hopes the community will turn out to watch the talent, local and regional, that will be on display. Admission to the games is free.

“It’s a wonderful time and good games,” she said.


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