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Play ball! Eastmont Community Park's backstops get needed repairs — just in time

Play ball!

Eastmont Community Park backstops damaged by an April snow were repaired just in time for a girls softball tournament over the Memorial Day weekend. The weight of the snow ripped netting over bleachers and bent poles. 

EAST WENATCHEE — A few softballs flew over the newly installed backstops and bounced into the crowd at Eastmont Community Park’s ballfields on Saturday. The backstops were so new that nets to protect the fans hadn’t been installed on the first day of the 2022 Sterling Invite softball tournament.

“If you play softball for any length of time and you know there’s no nets, you pay attention,” said Shane Duncan, vice president of the Greater Wenatchee Girls Softball Association.

About 60 teams played from Saturday to Monday at the Sterling Invite spread across three parks — Kirby Billingsley Hydro Park, Walla Walla Point Park and Eastmont Community Park — from ages 12 to 14, according to Duncan.

The usual nets that would go above the spectators had not yet been installed after snow from a freak mid-April storm collected on the fields’ protective nets, its weight bending poles.

The softball group had already committed to move the tournament from its the usual spot at the Sterling Sports Complex to the Eastmont Community Park when the snow damaged the all-important backstops.

About 40 poles would need to be replaced along with some fencing.

“We were this close to having to have our tournament at Sterling,” Duncan said. “(The Eastmont Metro Parks & Recreation staff) got the last concrete poured and the last chain link fence up yesterday. We were crossing our fingers. The parks department really helped us out by getting it done.”

The softball group has not made any final decisions, but Duncan said he thinks the Sterling Invite will be held at Eastmont Community Park from now on instead.

Teams from across the state — including those from Moses Lake, Sammamish, Snohomish and Seattle — arrived at the Eastmont Community Park on Saturday along with their families.

Some of the teams warmed up near the park’s tennis/pickleball courts or wherever they could find space. Duncan said that one drawback to using the Eastmont facility is the limited space available.

The Sterling location had much more space for teams to warm up, but the actual softball fields are “very, very rough,” according to Duncan. The fields are still playable but not for the large number of games during the tournament, he said.

The softball group will be taking a hit to their fundraising as they were not able to offer concessions’ at the Eastmont facility this year like usual. But this new site has more potential, Duncan said, with the presence of lights which means the event can go longer and includes yearly maintenance from the parks department.

He said the softball association may be able invite even more teams going from around 60 to 75.

Among the teams competing Saturday, East Wenatchee’s NCW Sun Devils competed at the Eastmont facility. Cassidy Callihan, head coach for the 14U team, said that this tournament had a lot of strong teams.

“A lot of good teams out here, but it’s good to see local girls playing in a tournament like this,” she said. “I’m glad that they offer tournaments like this.”

Oscar Rodriguez: (509) 665-1179

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