Lots of praise for Pittsfield following Babe Ruth Softball World Series
PITTSFIELD -- The 2014 Babe Ruth Softball 16-U World Series was the culmination of a year's worth of work for tournament organizers, both nationally and locally.
After six days of games that seemed to go from dawn to well past dusk, many volunteers were ready to go back to their everyday lives Tuesday.
Tara Coty was one of them. Throughout the entire tournament, she'd been between the Doyle Softball Complex press box and four fields, helping the tournament to run smoothly in her role as host coordinator.
Coty didn't seem to stop working most days until every player, coach and fan had gone home. Every night, she turned out the lights on Fields 1 and 2. Monday was no different, following the closing ceremony.
Still, she didn't want it to end.
"It's kind of sad," she said. "I wanted the ‘if' game, honestly. I told them downstairs [and] they said, ‘Are you crazy?' "
Her wish was granted, as Lodi, Calif., handed Madison County, N.C., its first loss Monday afternoon to force a winner-take-all championship game. Madison County won that, 5-2.
Coty was just one of a number of local volunteers who teamed with Babe Ruth regional and national staffers to keep the 15-team World Series running smoothly in its second run in Pittsfield. The Doyle Complex first hosted the event in 2008, when just 10 teams played for a 16-U championship.
Babe Ruth National Commissioner Rob Connor was here for that tournament, too, but he didn't stay in Pittsfield for the entirety of the 2008 Series. He did for the 2014 tournament, though, and said the depth of the local volunteer group was impressive.
"I've never once seen [a time] where there [weren't] enough people to turn around and do something," Connor said during the championship game Monday night.
"Pittsfield, from the standpoint of the field, volunteer group, local government ... there's a tremendous amount of support."
Barry Jordan, the New England Softball regional commissioner, echoed Connor's sentiments. He said he saw more volunteers, vendors and better fields than Pittsfield had six years ago.
"In ‘08, they did a great job," Jordan said. "They did an even better job this year."
Jordan was at the Complex from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 10:15 p.m. each day of the Series. When he arrived each day, Coty -- a Pittsfield Girls Softball board member for six years -- was likely already there.
She'd make sure the press box and concession stand had what they needed to start a day of softball, and would also check on the entrance gates before cars began arriving.
Coty would even take on more menial tasks in the name of hospitality.
"It's very wet in the mornings, so we would actually wipe down the bleachers," she said. "It's just the little things that make it more memorable for people who come here."
Connor also saluted the host team, the Berkshire Force, during Monday night's closing ceremony. The Force reached the final of the consolation Commissioner's Cup tournament, falling to Rochester, N.H.
"One of the things that stands out to me about Pittsfield is the host team," he told the crowd. "I have never seen a host team stay from start to finish and interact with all the teams ... in the manner they did."
It would seem, then, that Pittsfield would be a logical choice to host future Series. One thing that could make that tough, though, is the question of hotel availability.
In 2008, the Series organizers used the Patriot Suites hotel, which was shuttered in early 2010. Connor expressed hope that the Berkshire Mountain Lodge timeshare resort at the former Patriot Suites could be used for future World Series.
"I think that, if there's one thing we have to work on in order to come back here, especially with wanting to try and do more teams, is to get more support out of the local hotels," he said. "That's not an easy feat, because the Berkshires [are] an excellent vacation place in the summertime.
"Hopefully, we have a shot to work on it. I think, if the inventory increases, it puts Pittsfield in a position to do things in future years."
Connor's job was far from over as the 16-U World Series concluded; 20 minutes after the closing ceremonies, he was in his car and on his way to Philadelphia, where he caught a 6:30 a.m. flight to Florida. The 12-U Softball and Cal Ripken Baseball Major/60 World Series begin later this week in Alachua, Fla.
Jordan was headed home to Sebago, Maine, for a few days before traveling to Florida himself to help both Series run smoothly.
Coty, meanwhile, took Tuesday off from her regular job at Excelsior Integrated in Pittsfield. She'd been handling softball tasks for at least two or three weeks, and was looking forward to reconnecting with husband Daniel and daughter Jade, a student at Berkshire Community College.
Still, she admitted she was going to miss the day-to-day activities at the Complex.
"These games are so fun," she said. "They're so energetic. That's why you do it."
To reach Matthew Sprague:
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On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.
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