Recent storms threaten biggest Batesville baseball tournament

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The city of Batesville is still feeling the effects of Sunday night's storm.

Major floods almost canceled the largest baseball tournament the city has ever hosted.

"I was really, really, worried when I was out here Sunday night," Batesville Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Owens said. "The outfield fence was almost nonexistent. If I would have walked out to it, I would have been shoulder deep in water."

Owens said this is the worst flood lifelong Batesville residents can remember.

"They can't ever remember this piece of ground going underwater, but it did," Owens said. "And it went pretty deep in a lot of places."

The city is now left to clean up the curve ball Mother Nature threw at it.

"Trying to get the fields back in shape," Owens said. "They were complete and we were in really good shape for the tournament this weekend and then Mother Nature threw us a wild card."

It has taken the entire community to transform these fields from a construction zone to a baseball complex.

"We have city crews that are out here, but not just the Parks and Recreation crew," Owens said. "We've got people from the Batesville Water Department helping out. We've had people from the fire department. We've had help from the landscaping department and we actually have several local business that have sent crews out. And then people who are volunteering who aren't even living in Batesville."

The workers have now turned the puddles and mud into playable baseball fields, just in time for the first pitch.

"It's going to happen," Owens said. "We have all but two of the fields up and they're playable. Some things have happened and they've happened in a hurry. Once again, it's people banding together and a community coming together to make things happen."

Owens said if the city had to cancel the tournament, it would have been a huge blow to the local economy.

"People have made preparations, restaurants have added extra food and people would have lost money," Owens said. "Every hotel room is town is booked. People are having to find other places to stay. I think there's a couple people renting their houses out for the weekend. It's a huge economic impact for this town having that many people come in and visit, spend money here in town. It helps the local businesses, the restaurants. Everybody benefits from events like this." 

Owens said Batesville will have 13 baseball fields up and running by this weekend for the 130 baseball teams expected to play in the tournament. 

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