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Elm Park hosting softball tournaments starting Saturday

It’s been a lengthy process for Muncy softball coach Joe Tedesco and former Williamsport city councilman Don Noviello. The duo have been working together to get Elm Park’s complex a place where tournaments can be held as part of the Lycoming County Softball Association. It’s a non-profit group that they are a part of as the president and vice president, respectively.

Their idea and plan has finally come to fruition.

Beginning Saturday, Elm Park will be hosting softball tournaments thanks to Lycoming County going green under Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders today. The complex will be adhering to various COVID-19 related guidelines, such as no handshakes after a game, opting rather for a wave or tilt of the hat.

The association will be sanitizing the dugouts between each game as well and having each team exit the complex after their games are finished. In addition, only four players will be allowed in the dugout at one time, with the rest of the team having to be outside of the dugout.

“We got the OK from the mayor (Derek Slaughter). We got the OK from the district attorney (Ryan C. Gardner). We got the OK from the governor,” Noviello said. “So as long as we follow guidelines, we feel we’re in safe territory.”

Saturday’s tournament is just the start of many, as the Elm Park complex is booked through the second weekend of September.

The fields will be getting used Monday through Thursday and the weekends. Fridays will be used by the association’s crew to prep the fields for Saturday’s tournaments, Tedesco said.

The complex will host Amateur Softball Association tournaments.

“I guarantee this place is full almost six to seven days a week the rest of the summer,” Tedesco said.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all high school athletics were canceled for the spring season. Due to that, numerous seniors didn’t get to play out their final year. Tedesco decided to use the fields to allow high school players to play games this year there. It allows those seniors at least a few games throughout the summer by playing as an ASA team.

“The high school girls who weren’t able to play this year, Wednesdays we invited all the high schools so they’re able to play,” Tedesco said.

The entire complex has been undergoing a makeover. Two of the fields will be for regulation girls softball and ASA with the third field being offered for men’s slow-pitch softball. New fences were built and put in at 220 feet for the fields.

The dugouts and concession stands have also been repainted.

The complex has a newly formed pad between the second and third fields where the association is hoping to bring in food trucks during tournaments. When it isn’t used for that purpose, it will be used for handicap parking.

Noviello and Tedesco are also hoping in due time to get a handicap/special needs field installed on the grounds of Elm Park.

“These fields have never been in the kind of condition they’re in right now. Tedesco and his crew are here almost every single day making these fields manicured,” Noviello said.

The complex’s upgrades and planned usage is already bringing in numerous teams. Noviello noted how people from New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio and New York have called about coming to play tournaments.

Prior to the renovations and upgrades, Noviello had the county commissioners come to the complex to show them what work needed to be done and asked for $25,000 to make the improvements. The county commissioner’s turned around and gave them $50,000, which helped Noviello and Tedesco do numerous upgrades and repairs. That included buying two mowers for the fields and a four-wheeler to drag the infields.

“We never expected anything like that,” Noviello said of receiving the $50,000.

It will be named the Father John K. Manno Memorial Complex at Elm Park. A double-sided sign will be installed at the entrance to the complex as well along West Fourth Street.

The association also has a softball-shaped sign placed on the rear of a dugout in the middle field thanking those that helped with the project, such as former mayor Gabriel J. Campana, current mayor Slaughter, Williamsport city council president Randy Allison and the rest of city council, among others.

Williamsport and St. John Neumann’s softball teams will use Elm Park as their home, as they have in the past, as well as Penn College. In addition, Noviello and Tedesco are planning for future high school softball playoff games.

While these various tournaments will be going on between Saturday and the second weekend in September, admission at Elm Park will be free for all spectators. The only exception, Noviello noted, will be future PIAA playoff games.

“You live up the street and want to walk over and watch a game? Come on in, grab a hot dog, grab a Coke, sit down and watch a game,” Noviello said. ”We’re going to tell people as they come in to remember social distancing. … As long as we follow guidelines, we figure we’re in safe territory.

“We’re doing all this by the book.”

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