WARNER ROBINS — After a week of mostly clear skies and sweltering days, the rain began pelting Little League Southeast Park, gushing like Gatorade on a championship winning coach.
Tuesday’s downpour washed away the tears of joy and sorrow that fell during the Little League Softball Southeastern Region Tournament, concluded just a day before. It was as if Mother Nature knew the field needed nourishment, and the stadium a fresh start.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” said regional director Jen Colvin, gazing out over the dampening park from the administration building across the street.
On Friday, eight baseball teams will roll into town. With bats and gloves in tow, the boys will dig their cleats for the first time into the Georgia clay at the field.
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But before then, there is work to be done to make the field and stadium appear, once again, brand new.
“We’ll have everything cleaned up, mow the common areas, pressure wash the bleachers and bathrooms — make it look new again,” said Kevin Parker, facilities manager for the region.
The grass will be fertilized to “try to get the green back up.” A new pitcher’s mound already has been built to accommodate the difference in boys and girls pitching. Parker mows the field every day, an hour-and-a-half process.
On Friday, the day before the first game is played, the base path and infield areas will be re-edged, creating a sharper contrast between the green grass and copper-colored clay.
On the administrative side, Colvin and her staff are finishing up the necessary paperwork to send the Southeastern Region softball champions — Warner Robins American — to the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore. Then, they will start sorting through a new set of rosters and documents for the baseball teams.
There also will be some time for a breather.
“It’s hard to go from 90 miles an hour for four days to a normal day,” Colvin said. These are “a few days of decompression, but there is stuff to do.”
Some behind-the-scenes changes will be implemented during the baseball tournament after some issues were recognized during the softball games. For instance, air conditioning is being installed in the concessions area, where temperatures soared, Colvin said.
The staff also wasn’t prepared for the volume of spectators and traffic the tournament attracted. The number of spectators attending the pool rounds and semifinal games “far exceeded” the number of those attending previous championship games in Gulfport, Fla., the region headquarters’ previous home, Colvin said. Attendance at the championship game, which involved the home team, approached capacity.
The softball tournament “flew by,” Colvin said.
“And here we are, going to do it all again Friday.”
To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.