BKW Little League hits home run

 HILLTOWNS — The BKW Little League president says he was thrilled as a kid at Christmas to have the ValleyCats reclaim a field ravaged by tropical storms in 2011. He’s looking for volunteers to help.

“Generally, we’re just thrilled. It’s a field we didn’t have the funds right now to do anything with,” said President Kevin Toomey of the field in the Westerlo Town Park on Route 401. The pitcher’s mound, he said, is “essentially gone.” The bases come loose or out of place when players slide into them, he said.

New dirt had just been placed across the Little League diamond in the Westerlo Town Park when tropical storms Irene and Lee and eroded the field saturated the area three years ago. The field hasn’t fully recovered and it’s been used less.

The league has applied for help in a contest by the Tri-City ValleyCats minor-league baseball team every year since since the storms.

This month, BKW Little League’s Westerlo field was chosen among more than a dozen applications for the ValleyCats’ contest for major infield renovations of sod, bases, and dirt.

The winners of the “4 in 24” contest — Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Schenectady Little League, Twin Town Little League, and Spring Youth Baseball — will each have their playing areas renewed on April 17. The BKW Little League’s season-opening ceremony will be on April 27.

The selected infields will have their sod cut out, spread with new dirt to level the surface, and then resodded with the same quality grass that is used in the ValleyCats’ Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy, said Christoper Chenes, the team’s media relations manager; the dimensions between newly installed bases will be measured and the pitcher’s mound built and graded to the right slope.

Toomey expects to have three Little League teams play at the renewed field this coming season.

“It represents the league a whole lot better because we have our neighbor leagues coming to play there,” said Toomey.

The cost of renovating all four fields is about $50,000, according to Chenes. It is a joint program with BlueShield of Northeastern New York, a primary sponsor and source of volunteer work. Additional funds from the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, collected at the ValleyCats stadium, help pay for the project, and Admar Supply Construction Equipment and Supplies donates equipment at no cost, said Chenes.

Chenes said teams are chosen based on the types of renovations needed at a field, its condition, the financial standing of a league, and if a league cannot do a project on its own.

Toomey said tarps from the ValleyCats will help the team avoid erosion of its new field. He said Westerlo Supervisor Richard Rapp allowed town employees to bring extra dirt and help re-make the field.