No solution to ball field delima before fall’s first pitch

Harlie Bannister, center, accompanied by her dad Tommy Lucas, right, registered at the Blythewood Recreation Center for the Rec Center’s girls’ softball league. Behind her is coach Jeff Brown, who started the league, and assisting Harlie’s registration is Regina Heyward, left. Registration continues through Aug. 30.

Connor MacIntyre, 9 (center), stopped by the Blythewood Recreation Center Saturday to sign up for the Blythewood Baseball League’s Fall Ball season. With him are his dad, Matt (right), and his little brother Cole, 4. Amy Caldwell assisted with Connor’s registration to play on the Minors.

With approximately 20 teams registered to play Fall Ball with the Blythewood Baseball League and registration continuing through Aug. 30 for a new girls’ softball league that the Blythewood Recreation Center proposes to field in September, there is good reason to think Blythewood’s already crowded ball fields will not accommodate the additional teams.

Bill Trapp, president of the BBL, has declined to be interviewed on the record by The Voice about the baseball field dilema, but he did say that the BBL is expected to field anywhere from 35-40 teams in the spring.

Jeff Brown, manager of the Recreation Center, said in an interview with The Voice, that it doesn’t matter whether 250 or 350 girls register, he will work with it to begin the groundwork to build a girls’ softball league in Blythewood.

In the past, girls from Blythewood have played in the Dentsville Softball League at North Springs. Brown said the Blythewood girls should be playing in Blythewood.

Currently there are only three ball fields in Blythewood. A baseball committee has been working with the Town Hall to try to come up with more. Bob Mangone, who chairs the baseball field committee,  said the committee would like at least one more field and that they hope for four more.

“The Mayor has been on top of this and this is a priority he wants done,” Mangone said.

The committee is looking at an 8-acre lot behind Bethel-Handberry Elementary School that is owned by the Richland School District 2 and a 1-acre lot adjacent to the current ball fields. Mangone said he has written a letter to find out who owns that lot and the possibilities of acquiring it for a new field.

The mayor and council have said Richland County should put up the money to acquire and renovate new fields for the town’s ball teams.

Mangone told The Voice in June that his committee would hold a public forum on the issue in early August to seek input from the community. So far, no date has been set for the meeting,

Executive director of the Richland County Recreation Commission, James Brown, said he will attend a meeting soon to address the issue of overcrowding at Blythewood park for the fall leagues.  Brown said he feels confident that the commission can solve the problem.

“We have the funds available and we just need to decide how to use them,” Brown said.

Mangone, however, said he doesn’t expect a solution before next spring.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen this fall,” Mangone said, “but we would like to see it happen in the spring for the start of baseball.”

If there are no new fields by next spring, Brown said it is possible the softball league would move to North Springs Park.

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