New look for Babe Ruth league as the 2014 season begins

LEWISTOWN – There will be a new look to the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League (13-15-year-olds) for 2014.

For the first time since 2008, Lewistown West, the six-time defending league champion, will be in a rebuilding mode.

The league’s 60th season opens today with five games. Each team will play 27 games.

The 2014 season will open with two games at 3 p.m., Strodes Mills at Burnham and the defending champions visiting Reedsville at Armagh Memorial Field.

Then at 4 p.m., Yeagertown will be on the road at Belltown and at 5 p.m. McVeytown visits Beaver Springs.

Finally at 7 p.m., Belleville and Milroy will tangle in the first night game of the season at Armagh Memorial Field.

The West racked up a 158-7 record during its string of six titles. But, gone this year are Isaiah Kearns, the league’s top hitter and Most Valuable Player and Peyton Reesman, the league’s Outstanding Pitcher a year ago. Both Kearns and Reesman were 15-year-olds; the two now are contributing for the Mifflin County High School squad.

Also departed is the Lewistown coaching staff, which included two Pennsylvania Hall of Fame coaches, manager Bernie Howard and Chuck Curry, a longtime assistant coach. Howard, who managed from 2000-2013, had a career overall record of 392-92. He will stay in local youth baseball, having succeeded Larry Wolfe as manager of the Mifflin County American Legion baseball team.

Taking over the West reins will be one of three rookie managers for the 2014 season, Dominic Nichols.

The other rookie managers include Stephen Alexander at Burnham and Mark Shilling at Strodes Mills. Alexander replaces Tom Heller, who posted a 25-64 mark from 2010 to 2013. Shilling takes over for Butch Larson, who in the same span of time went 41-67.

Returning managers include Mike Hostetler, Belltown, second year, 15-12; Justin Yoder, McVeytown, third year, 12-43; Ted Rhoades, Milroy, seventh season, 60-100; and Scott Wright, Beaver Springs, ninth year (overall), 115-82.

Scott Reigle returns for his 17th year as manager of Reedsville and during that time he has compiled an overall mark of 352-173.

Two other long time veteran managers are on the threshold of coaching milestones.

Yeagertown’s Fred Zook, who is starting his 27th year as a manager, needs just three wins to reach the 500 mark. Zook has an overall record of 497-302. Only two other managers have ever reached 500 wins in league history, Belleville’s Bill Corbin and the late Bob Reigle of Reedsville.

His counterpart in Belleville, Corbin, is entering his 32nd campaign and needs only seven wins to reach the 600 mark. Corbin’s overall record is 593-323.

The three veteran managers should also have the top three teams in the league, Belleville, Reedsville and Yeagertown.

It should be an inter-city battle for fourth and fifth places between Lewistown and Strodes Mills.

Battling for sixth and seventh will be Beaver Springs and Belltown.

The last three spots should be a battle between Burnham, McVeytown and Milroy.

Beaver Springs needs just 10 wins to get to 100 win mark since it joined the league in 2009.