By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
For the boys, and girls, of summer, the moment they've been playing for all spring has finally arrived.
This Sunday afternoon the Pennsylvania Little League District 13 Tournament gets underway, with Major Division softball kicking things off just as it did a year ago.
The Major softball tournament has been moved to Danville's Echo Field, located nearby vacant F.Q. Hartman Stadium, as opposed to Milton's Brown Avenue Park where it has been a fixture for the last several years.
Warrior Run and Berwick play in Sunday's first game at 1 p.m. prior to Danville and Lewisburg taking the field at 3. The winners play either Mifflinburg or Milton, the defending champ, later next week.
A year ago Milton advanced to the Section 3 final, but lost to Minersville, 8-0.
An early start to the tournament always causes headaches for parents, and also to District 13 Administrator Greg Brouse.
"I hear it from the parents all of the time about the start times being so early. A lot of that is dictated by (Little League headquarters in) Bristol (Conn.)," said Brouse.
The tournament gathers steam the following weekend as both district-wide Junior baseball and Area II Major baseball begins play.
In Junior baseball on Saturday, the 22nd, Mifflinburg and Shikellamy-Acorn gets play started with a noon game before Danville and Warrior Run meet at 3 p.m. The following day Selinsgrove and Berwick play at 1 followed by Milton and Juniata County at 4.
On Sunday, the 23rd, Area II Major baseball begins with Selinsgrove and Snyder County playing at 1 p.m. and Lewisburg and Warrior Run playing at 3. The final two games of the night are Milton versus Shikellamy-Acorn at 5 p.m., followed by Mifflinburg and Juniata County at 7.
District-wide 9-10 year-old softball also starts on the 23rd, with Milton playing Warrior Run at 1 p.m. and Danville playing Bloomsburg at 3. The winners play either Mifflinburg or Lewisburg in their next game later in the week.
Milton was a big winner in last year's title game by taking a 16-1 victory over Shikellamy-Acorn. Milton then narrowly fell in the District 13 championship game to South Columbia, 6-5.
Next up to bat is Area II 9-10 baseball, which begins play on June 25. Snyder County and Shikellamy-Acorn kick things off with a 5:30 game followed by Milton and Lewisburg playing at 7:30.
The remaining two opening games of Area II 9-10 baseball feature Juniata County playing Selinsgrove and Mifflinburg facing Warrior Run on June 27.
Selinsgrove claimed last year's title in grand fashion with a 28-0 victory over Milton. The East Snyder Countians claimed the District 13 title over Danville before falling in the Section 3 Tournament.
The remainder of the tournament -- Area I 9-10 baseball, Area I and II 10-11 baseball, Area I Major baseball -- all begin play on either June 27 or 28.
Not included among that action is Senior baseball, which is back in the tournament after a lengthy absence. The two-team bracket gets underway on July 6.
There also is no Junior or Senior softball, but Warrior Run has a Junior team that automatically advances to the Section 3 tournament that starts in mid-July.
Participation numbers are down from a year ago, and another headache for Brouse is teams dropping out of the tournament after the pairings are already made. Around 10 teams have dropped out of the tournament so far this year.
"I'm considering a $250 fine next year if a team drops out (after the pairings are made). It gets upsetting," said Brouse, who's been fining teams $100 for the infraction but to no avail. "I had four teams drop out after I did the pairings this year."
Finally, a big rule change for 2013 states that if a team has 13 players on the roster, then mandatory play is dropped down to one time at-bat. If teams have 12 or fewer players, each has to have one at-bat and play six consecutive outs.