Thursday, July 21st, 2011
By Gary R. Rasberry
Celina popular spot for state ACME
It's not exactly "Field of Dreams", where the phrase "If you build it, they will come" became a part of the lexicon.
But once the FieldTurf infield was placed on what became Montgomery Field in Celina's Eastview Park, the ACME Basebal Congress has come with competition.
For the second straight year, the ACME State Tournament will be played in Celina starting this Saturday.
Since the renovation of the facility with the installation of the artificial surface in the infield, a gift to the city from the Montgomery family and Celina Insurance Group, ACME has made sure that it has been used for tournaments, on the county, district and state level.
"Mercer County, to us, is where ACME began 50 years ago," said ACME commisioner Kathy Beam via telephone. "It's the focal point. It's a halfway point (for the teams).
"Celina does a great job. Last year, when we chose to have the Ron Fortkamp Memorial (the 2010 state tournament named in honor of the late Celina ACME coach), they just do, and have over the years, an awesome job at running a tournament. A great complex. great parking. Great staff and field. Every year at the end of our season, we sit back and evaulate the tournament. They just do a great job."
Several teams posted bids to host the tournament, but in the end, Celina proved to be the best to offer.
"We had a couple teams interested, one in Lima, but they had to pull out," said Beam. "Celina said they'd like to host it again. It wasn't from lack of teams applying for the state tournament. We like to move it north-south, but Celina is our central location."
The fact that Montgomery Field's field turf means that games can be played after rain was also a factor, considering that the tournament must be concluded before August 1.
"This year, the way the calender falls, we have to be done by August 1. The district commisioners and (ACME) board looked at the calendar and wanted a tournament as late as possible to give us more playing time in the summer," said Beam. "If we would get rain two or three days in a row, it could be difficult (to finish by the deadline). That happened 5-6 years ago in Archbold where we had to go to a single-elimination tournament to get the tournament. We don't want to do that."
Celina ACME coach Rob Howell, who will serve as tournament director, is happy to have the state tournament back on his summer homefield.
"It's a good thing, no question," said Howell. "It's good for the community. It's good for the area and baseball in this area. We're happy we can do it.
"We had a lot of town support when we were in it last year," continued Howell, a reference to Celina qualifying for the tournament and finishing fourth. "We were averaging 300 Celina fans for games out here. It was a lot of fun. Fun for the kids, fun for the parents and the community. It was an exciting time."
"Rob does an awesome job up there," said Beam. "All of them do. They run a good tournament and have lots of success up there."
Although his sqaud will not be playing this year, Howell is rooting for district champ Minster.
"We're happy to have Minster in representing District 4," said Howell. "I think they'll do a good job."
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Mostly sunny, mild