upon El Campo’s Legacy Fields over the weekend to see softball teams from all over the area, vying for the coveted Little League Texas East State Championship. The goal for organizers was to put on a successful state tournament and by many accounts, that’s what happened for the first time hosting, El Campo Little League.
“I was amazed at all the volunteers I saw and I don’t think it could have been better. It was a flawless (tournament),” New Braunfels coach Dustin Cordero said.
El Campo did everything they could to hit their first time hosting the state championship game, out of the park. The volunteer effort from the El Campo Little League board, to the District Administrators and families, to the El Campo police, to the El Campo Volunteer Fire Department, to the umpires, to a local facility housing the umpires and support staff for free during the tournament.
“This complex is twice (good) as Seguin,” District 27 Administrator Danny Kotuar said. “Seguin has kind of gotten run down over the years, this town went out of the way to make it beautiful, that’s what stands out the most, plus they had more volunteer’s here.”
Paul Sanders, the District 18 Administrator, who’s been a Little League umpire during the World Series three different times, wanted to have the Texas East Tournament have the same type of feel as the games when he’s been behind the plate calling balls and strikes.
Sanders organized a small parade of athletes playing Friday afternoon that went through Zlotnik Park and each team was honored. On opening night, and every night they played games, the Wharton Junior ROTC came out and presented colors and someone threw out the first pitch to commence the action.
“I think it went great. The turnout was outstanding,” Sanders said. “The parade was outstanding. All we had was praise.”
The process for the Little League started back in October. Sanders had the idea of bringing the tournament to town, but he knew it was going to take quite an effort to unseat Seguin. The Little League softball Texas East championship had gone through Seguin for over a decade.
Sanders, armed with aerial photos of Legacy Field and three letters, written by the chamber of commerce, the City of El Campo and the mayor convinced a majority of the 17 District Administrators, winning the East championship for this year.
“This whole town went out for this state tournament,” Sanders said.
The Little League game will have to go through the same vote next year to determine where it will be held, but Sanders is hoping everything from the upgraded concession stand food, to the working scoreboards, to the goodie bags every player on each team received will be enough to bring it back to El Campo.
“Seguin wants it back. They’ve done a bunch of work over there and they’re going to fight me for this. But I’m going to put up a fight. I’m not going to give up easily,” Sanders said.
With one state tournament under its belts, the El Campo Little League is hungry for another in 2020.
“We’re already making some adjustments and looking at things that we can do better,” El Campo Little League President Shawna Weid said. “We’re looking at things that we did well and keeping those. We’re looking forward to doing it again, but overall we’re just excited and pleased.”
For the El Campo Little League, the action doesn’t stop. They’ll move from the Texas East State Softball tournament to another big tournament later in the month, the Hook, Line and Dinger tournament with 41 baseball teams ranging from 8U to 13U committed to play during a two-day weekend.
“There is going to be a lot of people out here, it’s going to be another busy time for us,” Wied said.
The Little League is expecting twice as many people that they saw during the state tournament.
After Labor Day, the Little League will start a fall league which is entering its second year. Following the fall league, the Little League will finally get a chance to rest until everything starts back up next year.