Penns Valley Little League Softball wrapped up its season with a couple of firsts this year.
The league received a grant from the Pittsburgh Pirates to help offset some costs and had a record-setting year for girls enrolled in the league — all of which league President Terry Bumgardner said led to the league’s success.
After an application process through the Pirates, the league was given a $1,900 grant that helped fund field maintenance costs, Bumgardner said.
“I’m a Mets fan, but now rooting for the Pirates, too, because of how easy the process was and how helpful they were and for allowing us to do some work that needed to be done,” Bumgardner said. “The little we got went a long way.”
Bumgardner said that earlier this year, the league was searching for grants to help offset some general costs to keep up its newest field.
Then a friend introduced Bumgardner to Pirates Charities, a philanthropic branch of the baseball team that annually gives a series of grants to eligible leagues across Pennsylvania and Ohio.
“This helped and gave us a great start, but we’re far from finished,” Bumgardner said.
This year’s field maintenance helped make a new softball field behind Centre Hall Elementary School usable. League members and volunteers built a backstop, purchased infield mix and set up bases, which cost about $5,000. Infield mix is a combination of sand, silt and clay that is used on the infield of baseball and softball fields.
The league hopes to add dugouts next year, Bumgardner said.
The season started April 26 and concluded July 2.
Bumgardner said there were 83 girls on seven teams in three divisions — the most ever. For the first time, the league also expanded its play across Centre County.
“I think these are ways to help us be successful for the future,” Bumgardner said. “That attributes to our level of play when we play good competition. Before, we were just playing each other.”
Bumgardner said the Penns Valley boys Little League also helped the softball league by offering fields to practice on while its own were being renovated.
“This year has been a real community effort the whole way through making, positive relationships and helping the girls to grow,” Bumgardner said.
Pirates Charities’ “Fields for Kids” program gave its first round of grants to 15 youth baseball and softball organizations, serving more than 3,000 youths. Diamonds R 4 Ever, of Centre County, also received a piece of the grant.
Diamonds R 4 Ever is a charitable organization that holds events, camps, dinners and more to raise money to help build and improve baseball facilities.