By Mike Deak
NORTH WEBSTER – The Wawasee area and its Wawasee Community Summer League is among those preparing for a summer ball season, and the bustle includes some major upgrades to one of its parks.
June 15 is circled with red Sharpie by everyone associated with the league, which is slated to be the long-awaited opening day. Ahead of its opening day is the anticipated completion of a diamond renovation at North Webster. The south baseball diamond, which has been largely dormant for nearly a decade, is getting an overhaul to be used once again. With the help of some labor donations and a resurfacing of the infield, the field is nearly completed.
“The renovation is to get the field ready for players to use for anything,” stated Jamison Corn, who is helping with the field work. “It hasn’t been used in at least eight years, maybe longer, and it’s time. We started ripping it up the beginning of May.”
Corn noted that the renovation work, which included services from Hamman Excavating, JS Skidloaders and Elkhart County Gravel, should be done before opening day. The final work, putting in the pitcher’s mound, is on Corn’s checklist to finish.
“I just want to thank the town of North Webster and both JS Skidloaders and Hamman Excavation for their work and donation of time and funds to get the park and the lights ready for our new season,” said Wawasee Community Summer League president Jamie Beer in a statement.
On top of the renovation work at North Webster, the league as a whole is ready to take off. Beer stated earlier in the week the league had over 340 players across its divisions and could have upwards of 350 once everything settles.
“I just can’t believe we had that many kids,” Beer said. “COVID made things crazy and we have a lot of first-year players that are on the older end of the divisions. I thought we’d end up around 250.”
Corn, who is on the league board and also coaching one of the softball teams, was ecstatic to get the kids on the field for its first practice Thursday night. “I’m good with everything,” Corn stated. “Being on the board as well as a coach, we’ve heard mostly positive from everyone, kids and parents. We’ve got the rules in place to make it as safe as possible, and we’ve been communicating with the parents to let them know what we expect. It’s actually been pretty smooth, we’re all sharing the same ideas.”
The Wawasee Warpath 14U softball travel team was also on the field Thursday opposite the league team. Coaches Tim Lemberg and Damien Lambright were business as usual, echoing most of the positive vibes. Lemberg, however, wanted his girls to remember playing is a privilege, given several of the area leagues chose to not conduct business this summer.
“A lot of the kids around the area don’t have a place to go, and we are reminding the girls that,” Lemberg said.
Added Lambright, “We are practicing like we have a tournament the next day. You just don’t know with some places if they will be able to play. We’re practicing for a good hour on everything we need to do for a tournament the next day. Then we are ready for whoever we might be playing.”