The South Big Horn County Little League program continues to thrive, as more than 140 kids from T-ball on up to juniors are expected to take the field in Basin and Greybull this spring and summer.
While several of the young teams have yet to practice, the season is already in full swing for the juniors team, the two majors teams and the two minors teams. In all, there will be 14 teams from Greybull and Basin.
Curtis Johnson and Nathan Patrick are coaching the oldest team in the system. Known as the juniors, the team consists of 13- and 14-year-old players and is sponsored by Greybull Building Center.
There are two 11- and 12-year-old majors teams. The more seasoned team will be coached by Ken Wright and play under the Big Horn Federal banner; Nathan Oster is coaching the younger Bank of Greybull team. Ross Henderson, Darrell Cooper, Jeff McKim and Dean Schlattmann are assisting the two teams.
River Rail Federal Credit Union and Murdoch Oil are sponsoring the two minors teams (9 and 10 year olds). One of the teams is based in Basin and coached by Sam Buck and Alex Olson, while the other is a Greybull club coached by Jeff Hunt, Jake Craft and Bekki Benasky.
Practices have yet to begin for the coach pitch and T-ball teams – but there are a whopping nine clubs at those two levels. The three coach-pitch teams will represent Davies Machine Shop, A&W and E&M Heating.
Six T-ball teams will take the field this summer. The sponsors of those teams will be Big Horn REA, Highmark Consulting, Julson Enterprises, Hunt Construction, CC’s/BT’s and the Greybull Motel.
While some games will already be in the books, league organizers are shooting for Thursday, May 11 for their Opening Night celebration. Two games are on tap, with Greybull and Basin squaring off in minors action on the east field while the Big Horn Federal squad hosts Otto on the west diamond.
“Players from all 14 teams are encouraged to show up to help us start the season,” said Ken Wright, organizer of the South Big Horn County Little League program.
The season will run through the end of June, with a schedule of more than 80 games.
Fans who attend the Opening Night ceremonies will notice the newest addition to the program, as a batting cage has been constructed between the two fields since the completion of last season.
Darrell Cooper spearheaded the project, with help from Dean Schlattmann.
New Era donated pipe for the support system, which was put in place one Sunday afternoon last fall by a group of volunteers, including several from Murdoch Oil.
Hunt Construction finished the job this spring by pouring the concrete. While the league paid for the concrete, Hunt Construction donated the manpower and expertise required to do the work.
The result, Wright said, is “one of the finest batting cages in northern Wyoming … something on par with what you’d see in Casper or a Billings. And the way it was built, it’ll be there long after we’re gone, too.”
This is the fourth year of the Little League program’s existence in south Big Horn County.
Wright said, “We’re definitely seeing the development in the kids, especially those who are in their third or fourth year of the program. The future of the program looks strong too, going by the T-ball numbers.”
The Greybull and Basin recreation districts have contributed financial assistance. So, too, have the businesses and the town, which maintains the field. Then there are the volunteers — from the various coaches up and down the system to the support staff, such as treasurer Carrie Hunt and secretary Janelle Craft who help Wright run the program.
“All of these people — and we’re talking upwards of 40 people — are the reason we’re able to do what we do and have such a strong league,” said Wright.
The first pitch of the season was thrown Monday night at the Art Schutte Sports Complex when the Big Horn Federal team clashed with the Lovell Nationals. An inside-the-park homer by leadoff hitter Carlos Rodriguez provided an early spark, but the night ended in disappointing fashion for the locals, with the Nationals prevailing 10-3.
Isaak Gaytan accounted for one of the other Greybull runs, coming around to score after an errant throw into third as he was trying to stretch a double into a triple on a shot to right center in the second inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Bandits had scored one run to draw within 5-3 and had the bases loaded threatening for more when Lovell’s second baseman secured a pop fly in shallow right field for the third out.
A five-run rally by the Nationals in the top of the fourth put the game out of reach for the Bandits.
Jake Schlattmann, Cale Wright, Aiden Reece, Beto Rios-Diaz and Kevin Rosales handled the pitching chores for the hosts, who will look to rebound when they play a road game in Lovell on Friday night.