Pickerington Times-Sun

Youth baseball tournament boosts Pickerington economy

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Players from the AMP Force Ohio baseball team from Cleveland warm up beneath pleasant skies by fielding ground balls prior to the start of a game during the U-10 State Baseball Championships in Pickerington on Friday, June 13.

Amid the pinging of metal bats, umpires barking calls and families cheering on their respective teams, the sweeter sounds of baseball -- and cash registers -- rang through the PYAA baseball complex at the Ohio Nations Youth Baseball tournament in Pickerington June 12-15.

In all, 72 teams of boys who play on under-10-years-old select travel squads, many hailing from distant corners of Ohio, battled it out for both bragging rights and trophies over four days.

The tournament was hosted by the Big Katz travel baseball team in coordination with the Pickerington Youth Athletic Association and the city of Pickerington.

Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray said four days of non-stop baseball was music to the ears of the Pickerington business community. The tournament provided a boost to the local economy.

"It's a major event," Gray said. "When you bring 72 teams into the Pickerington business community, and there is 12 or 13 kids on each team, we have families coming in from all over the state.

"All those people need to find places to eat and get gas," he said.

Gray served as site director for the tournament. He said tournament organizers were impressed with the PYAA facilities off Hill Road when they attended a different event last April.

"They said 'this is a real nice place to play baseball'," said Gray. "From there we were able to secure the 10U portion (of the Nations tournament)."

Danielle Vannest drove in from Wheeling, W.Va., to watch her son play for the Ohio Valley Mudcats. Her family stayed several nights at the Pickerington Hampton Inn.

"It's a very well-run tournament and it's a great area," she said."Everyone has been very accommodating."

Her friend, Janel Evans, also there to cheer on the Mudcats, remarked about the diversity of dining options nearby.

"It's pretty easy, all of the restaurants are right down the street. It doesn't take a long time to grab something to eat," she said.

As for the competition, "intense" probably summed it up best.

"It's a great state tournament and these are the best teams, so it's just fun to watch," said coach Chad Arntson of the Luckey (Ohio) Longhorns.

Gray said based on the success of the weekend, he hopes the tournament comes back next year.

"Nations Baseball has been great to work with," Gray said.

"They're very organized," he said. "They do a great job."