EATON — A new association dedicated solely to the development of fastpitch softball has been formed in Eaton.
After years of being part of Eaton’s Little League program, softball now has a home of its own in the form of the Eaton Girls Softball Association — and 116 girls are benefiting.
“We had been talking about it for about three years,” EGSA board member David Ditmer said. “It’s just the lack of teams to play through Little League and just the extended travel time. It made more sense to split off and go local.”
As a member of the Little League, softball teams were only permitted to play teams which were members of Little League, which included Englewood and Northridge. There are no other Little League softball teams in the area.
Teams in the EGSA now play games against area communities Camden, West Alexandria, Valley View, and New Lebanon, according to Ditmer.
The decision made to form a new softball league was easy.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Ditmer said. “We get away from the Little League and their chattering rules and specifications that they do. You can’t play anybody outside of District 8. You play Northridge and Englewood and that’s it. Basically, it was a lack of teams.”
Ditmer said Eaton teams can now play “who we want, when we want and where we want.”
Ditmer said the program has nine teams this year ranging from 8-and-under (machine pitch) to 14U. There are two 14U team, a 12U team, three 10U and three 8U teams.
“We’re just trying to make it a little more consistent,” he said of the machine pitch division. “Rather than the coach pitch. Some coaches have a hard time throwing strikes so on and so forth. We’ve had mixed reviews with that. Some think it’s okay and some don’t like it. You’re not going to please everybody so we’re experimenting with it.”
Ditmer said the community support to this point has been great.
“The community support has been outstanding. Of course, we’ve heard nothing but good things about everything that’s been done up here,” Ditmer said of the new concession stand and rest room facilities at the park as well as field upgrades.
Ditmer named several donors who made the upgrades possible and wanted to thank the following, Mary Bullen, Prograde Construction, the City of Eaton, Preble County Engineers Office, Eagle Fence, Steve Simmons, Bill Simmons, and Henny Penny. He also mentioned key sponsors Positive Points Inc., Henny Penny Corporation, Eaton Floral and Miami Valley Vision Care, Lawn Plus, Essence Of Wellness, Silfex, Skyline Chili and VFW Post 8066.
“Everything was on donation,” he said.
Ditmer said he hopes getting the girls accustomed to playing fastpitch at an early age will help with the continued recent success of the high school program, which won a sectional championship this past season for the first time in program history.
“I think it will benefit a lot. We’ve had conversations and have actually done some camps with the high school team,” Ditmer said. “They are on board and they’re willing to help. We’re utilizing each other. In the long run, I think it will pay off for the high school as well. It’s basically a feeder system for them.”
Fastpitch softball has only been around Eaton for about eight or nine years, according to Ditmer.
“All signs point to a real good deal,” he said.
Ditmer said there are eight board members, Tonna Ditmer, Doug Mize, Chris Shrimper, Mary Bullen, Leslie Copper, Karla Calvert, and Deanna Hoffman, who share the duties in running the EGSA.
“With the work between the eight of us and all the community support this is what we got,” Ditmer said of the facilities and new association.
Ditmer said the new association was formed with the help and support of Eaton Little League.
“Kudos to Kyle Cross. He’s the one, being president of (Eaton) Little League, he actually helped get all this rolling,” Ditmer said. “The Little League board was 100 percent fully behind this move as much as anybody was. They knew what we were facing there with the limited amount of teams. It was a no-brainer really as far as we were all concerned. It was a win-win for all of us. Not that that was a bad deal, but only having two other towns to compete with and their further away than our own county teams and we ended up with more teams to play. We’ll have our own league tournaments. We’re looking forward to it.”
Eaton will host two league tournaments beginning this weekend.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH