Valley Down to 11

12/02/2009 – Daily News Record

Written by Mike Barber Daily News Record Sports Department

Harrisonburg – The Valley League is down to 11 baseball teams. It’s commissioner hopes that will be a one-year arrangement. Commissioner Dave Biery said Tuesday that the Fauquier Gators will no longer field a team in the wood-bat summer league for college players.

“I feel reasonably confident we’ll have a 12th team for 2011.” Biery said. “There are a couple of people who are talking about it.”

Alison Athey, a trustee with the Gators, said the team’s board informed the league on Sept. 17 of it’s decision.

“Basically, we just got tired of the time commitment and the lack of community support in terms of financial support,” Athey said Tuesday evening. “It was a difficult decision.”

Fauquier played three seasons in the Valley League. Before that, it had been in the Clark Griffith League since 2001. Athey said the team considered going back to the Clark Griffith, but ultimately decided to cease operations.

With Fauquier out, Biery said the Valley will go to a non-divisional format. This past season, the league’s 12 teams were split in three divisions. This summer, all the teams will play each other four times – twice home, twice away. Teams will also play another two opponents in a home-and-home series to fill out the schedule.

Harrisonburg Turks owner and manager Bob Wease said he prefers the non-divisional format, because it allows everyone to play each other and keeps rivalries – such as the one the Turks have with Staunton – as a big part of the schedule.

Last summer, the Turks played Staunton only twice – once home, once away.

Harrisonburg will play this season at James Madison University’s new ballpark, on the site of the old Memorial Stadium. The 1,200-seat, lighted field is scheduled to be finished in time for JMU’s season this winter and spring.

To show off the facility, Wease said, the Valley League’s season opener will pit Harrisonburg against New Market at Memorial Stadium.

The league will also hold it’s All-Star Game at Memorial.

“It should be a big thing for the league,” Wease said.

This past year, the Turks played at Long Field, JMU’s current baseball facility. Since it didn’t have lights, games had to be started at 5 p.m.

“Those five o’clock games were awful,” Wease said. “You had to try to hurry to get them in before the sunset.”

Mike Barber Assistant Sports Editor Sports Department 540-574-6296