A season on the brink


Anthony Weber | Troy Daily News Troy Junior Baseball teams, including Mercer Group Sports Turf, watch as the first pitch is thrown during opening day at Mark Knoop Sports Complex in March. After a relatively dry start to the season, heavy rains and flooding have caused scheduling problems for Troy Junior Baseball.

Anthony Weber | Troy Daily News Braden Walsh swings at bat for the Goodwill Stores J-ball team during a game against Dave’s Services Saturday, April 25, at Mark Knoop Sports Complex. After a relatively dry start to the season, heavy rains and flooding have caused scheduling problems for Troy Junior Baseball.

By David Fong

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TROY — Every day for the past two months, Brandy Joins has had to check the weather radar to see what is in store for the area.

For the better part of the past three weeks, that has been the worst part of the Troy Junior Baseball Board President’s day.

“Since I took over scheduling our umpires in May to help out another board member, I’ve been out there every single day,” Joins said. “I’ve had to check the forecast every single day and see all those blobs (indicating rain). I hate it. I have an alarm that automatically goes off on my phone when storms are on the way — I hate that, too.”

To put it bluntly, the seemingly endless rain that has hovered over the area for much of the past month has turned Troy Junior Baseball’s Mark Knoop Complex into a swampy mess, which has led to a series of scheduling nightmares. The complex — which sits next to the Great Miami River — flooded several times during the month of June, often completely submerging the baseball diamonds.

At various points, the water levels have reached the tops of the outfield fences. Even on the rare occasions when the water has receded, new rains have returned within 24 to 48 hours, flooding the complex all over again.

“I’ve been involved with the board for eight or nine years now, and as far as I can recollect, it’s never been this bad,” Joins said.

Making things worse is the timing of the rain. Four of Troy Junior Baseball’s five leagues — J-minor, Minor, Major and Teener — all play postseason tournaments and have postseason all-star games. Only the T-ball league plays just a regular season. Had the rains and flooding happened at the beginning or during the middle of the season, the regular season could have been shortened in an effort to get all the tournament games played before July 4, the date TJB would ideally like to mark the end of every season.

With the flooding coming toward the end of the season, however all four leagues are in the middle of tournament play.

“We are taking every day-by-day right now,” Joins said. “That’s really all we can do with Mother Nature. We always try to have everything wrapped up by the Fourth of July, but it doesn’t look like we are going to be able to do that this year.”

The t-ball season came to an end last weekend, with many of the teams getting in a full regular season and several teams forced to cancel one or two final games. The J-Minor, Minor, Major and Teener leagues all are in the middle of tournament play. The J-Minor and Minor leagues will try to finish their tournaments at the Knoop Complex — weather permitted, of course.

The City of Tipp City has allowed the Major league to finish its tournament at Kyle Park. While Kyle Park doesn’t have to worry about flooding, rainouts remain a possibility. The Teener league doesn’t play any games at the Knoop Complex — but rather at various locations throughout Miami County — and flooding won’t be a concern for Teener teams.

Joins said TJB is hoping all the leagues will be able to finish up their tournaments around mid-July — about three weeks after the usual close of the season.

“That’s what we are hoping to do,” she said. “We know a lot of parents schedule their vacations for right after the season ends, so we are hoping to give everyone some time off for vacations, then give the coaches and players time to get things back together again to finish the season.”

Should the rains continue to soak the area through the month of July, Joins said, the TJB Board of Directors may have to consider ending the season without crowning tournament champions.

“I’m not going to say that’s not a possibility,” she said. “So far, the coaches and parents have all been very understanding and flexible,” she said. “But if something were to happen where we had to start going into August, there might come a point in time where we would have to talk about cancelling the rest of the season. But we are hoping for sunshine and hoping that doesn’t happen.”

In the meantime, there are no quick fixes for the flooding problems at the Mark Knoop Complex, which has dealt with the same issues year after year since it was built three decades ago. There has been some discussion about building a new junior baseball facility in Troy — Duke Park being the most likely location — but that possibility remains several years in the future.

“Even if we got everything approved for that right now, today, it would be at least three or four years before we could have everything ready to go,” Joins said. “So for now, we’re just going to have to do the best we can with what we have — and hope we get good weather.”

Conact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong

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