World Series organizers optimistic for 2005

The largest youth sports league in the world will be holding one of its most important events in Sussex County.

Little League Baseball Inc. will hold its Senior League Softball World Series in at the Lower Sussex Little League complex in Roxana for the second straight year. It will be the 30th World Series.

The World Series will begin Aug. 7 and run through Aug. 13.

The goal for this year is simple: to improve upon last year’s successful series.

“We learned a lot last year,” Delaware District 3 Administrator Martin Donovan said. “We got about 75 percent of it right last year.”

The district held its official kickoff breakfast last Saturday in Millsboro. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner attended the breakfast, along with state Rep. Gerald Hocker and Sen. George Howard Bunting. (Minner opened the World Series last year.)

Girls ages 14 to 16 will be convening in Roxana, coming from all over the world to take part in the event.

Pool A for the series will consist of Canada, USA South, Latin America, USA Southwest and USA Central. Pool B will include USA West, Asia Pacific, USA East, Delaware District 3 and Europe/Africa/Middle East.

Delaware District 3 gets a team automatically in the World Series, just by virtue of being the host. The winner of the district tournament will be the representative. Another Delaware team could also be in the series, as the representative of USA East, as was the case last year.

Latin America was last year’s winner, beating USA South 2-0 in the championship game. They became the first non-United States team to win the Softball World Series. Laurel, from District 3, finished fifth last year.

The operating budget for the World Series will be nearly $200,000, and its income is expected to be roughly the same.

“It costs a good bit of money to operate,” Donovan said. “Some restaurants donated dinners last year, which helped take away some of the cost.”

The committee that has been working on the logistics for the series will be putting the players up at Bear Trap Dunes, the same as last year. They also will be picking the girls up from the Philadelphia airport in style, by limousine service. They found limousine service was actually cheaper than sending buses. (A box truck will pick up luggage.)

Little League Inc. told Donovan that those playing in Roxana probably have the nicest place for the participants to stay of any of the eight World Series locations for 2005.

Those details are lined up, but organizers are still looking for businesses to advertise in the game programs. They also have three tiers of sponsors for those looking to sponsor the series.

This year, organizers are hoping the games run more smoothly than in 2004, though the problems were largely out of organizers’ hands. It rained on the first three days of the 2004 World Series.

David Colby, Bill Gaull and Rick Henderson — coaches at Laurel — were also brought on to help with the planning from a participant’s perspective.

District 3 is no stranger to running and holding tournaments. They started hosting the Eastern Region Major League Softball Tournament in 1997. The winner of that tournament goes on to the World Series tournament. It ran that tournament through 2003.

And in October of 2003, Delaware District 3 submitted a proposal at the request of Little League Baseball Inc. and was given the chance to host the World Series.

They’ve made putting on a good show a priority in their work.

“We want the kids to remember Sussex County and Roxana,” Donovan said.