The race is on: New LL field hosts big tourney

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Home is where the heart is

Beaverhead Little League officials Alyssa Creighton and Andy Bartlome set home plate on one of two new fields at Ray Lynch Park. The league will dedicate the fields Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., to open the Montana District 2 Little League tournament BLL is hosting Friday through Tuesday. J.P. Plutt photo

The dream of Beaverhead Little League officials, players in the league and supporters across the county will become a reality Friday morning when the Montana District 2 Little League tournament begins with a dedication to the new complex at Ray Lynch Park. The tournament will bring 15 teams playing in three divisions for the right to advance to the Montana State Championship Little League tournament that will be held this year in Billings.

“It has definitely been a process, that’s for sure,” said BLL President Alyssa Creighton. “Having this tournament really gave us a deadline. I think without the deadline we’d still be tip-toeing and now we’re sprinting to the finish line here for the tournament that is coming this Friday.”

As of Monday night at the field, Creighton said the group had three days to finish dugouts and some fencing, level the dirt in the common area and then haul and spread some gravel on that common space.

“Once we bring in the rock, that is going to be the biggest thing to get done before games start Friday so it is not muddy.”

The group has been transforming Ray Lynch Park into a Little League Mecca since the spring of 2021.

“We’re super proud of it not just for Little League but for the community as a whole because even with just the green grass growing and the dugouts going in. Obviously, there is a ton of work to do, but every single time we get something completed it just makes us more proud to be here and to be able to bring the teams to Dillon this weekend. Everybody is talking about coming to Dillon and see our field and they’re all jacked to be the first teams to play on it.”

According to league official and coach Andy Bartlome, the dedication ceremony Friday morning at 8:30, will precede two 9 a.m. games featuring Dillon teams. Bartlome says that Bar Double T owner Mark Sloan will throw out the historic first pitch to open the weekend.

Bartlome says that 23 games will be played between Friday and Monday, with an “if necessary” game set for Tuesday if a team comes through the back door and challenges for the title in the 10-12 division. That division is the most famous in Little League lore, with the long-time tradition of the Little League World Series at Williamsport, Penn. One of the teams in Dillon this weekend could possibly advance to that prestigious event.

The 10-12 division will advance a single team to the state tournament in Billings to face the Eastern Montana District 1 champion for the right to advance to the Western Region Little League tourney in California. In the other two divisions, 8-10 and 9-11, three teams advance to Billings for state, where the season ends regardless of results.

Dillon has two teams competing, one in the 10-12 and one in the 8-10. Both teams will open the tourney at 9 a.m. Friday. Dillon’s 10-12 team opens with Northwest LL of Butte, game one of an eight-team, double elimination bracket. Win or lose, they play again once on Saturday. The tourney continues through Sunday and Monday, and again, with the possibility of an “if necessary” game on Tuesday.

The Dillon 8-10 team faces Mount Jumbo/Westside of Missoula at 9 a.m. on Friday. The five-team tourney concludes on Saturday.

The 9-11 division has three teams and all three advance to state. The 9-11 tourney will be played out Saturday and Sunday.

Beaverhead Little Leaague All-Stars Little League (10-12) – Noah Feenstra, Gordon Broeder, Breyden Vrooman, Garrett Tackett, Aiden Ferguson, Parker Mills, Sawyer Mills, Tanner Stonebraker, Gage Curnow, Brody Curnow, Logan Fox, Everett Sitton, Landon Lovaas. Manager - Justin Fox. Assistant coaches – Jeff Feenstra and Erik Broeder.

All Stars (8-10) - Colton Bartlome, Colter Evans, Jaxon Nagel, Easton Oswald, Knox Peacock, Austin Blando, Chase Pilon, Carter Turney, Behra Hutchison, Braxton Feuling, Spencer Zahn, Chase Clarke, Kolton Davis. Manager - Zach Oswald. Assistant coaches – Andy Bartlome and Brandon Turney.