By Todd Palmatier
The combined Ellicottville, Cattaraugus, Little Valley Little League Baseball team is celebrating its 25th anniversary this spring as the league continues to grow with the addition of the West Valley and Ashford communities in 2014. This merger has not only increased the number of players, but added opportunities for the league to participate in various tournaments.
Due to the fact that many local villages could no longer field their own leagues, the ECLV began in 1990. Initially, the league was under the direction of Ken Dankert, Glenn Hall and Mary Jo Woodarek. After a few years, the reins were handed over to Marty Burroughs, who helped form the first All Star teams in order to compete in district play, while also hosting district tournaments.
With the help of Varsity Baseball Coaches Chuck Senn, Chris Mendall and Todd Palmatier, the ECLV program grew to include Junior and Senior League Baseball (which takes place after the high school season has ended). This program has been very successful in its first years, with the Junior League team beating some powerhouse teams from Olean. The Senior league team played a merged season with Franklinville in 2014, but looks to build and stand on its own in 2015.
With help from Todd Palmatier and Mike Burroughs, the league continued to grow with the addition of the first girls’ Softball All Stars. That team won the ECLV 1st District 2 Softball Title in 2013. Additionally, the league now offers girl’s Junior and Senior League Softball. In its first year of play under the direction of Coach Matt Ellis of Cattaraugus and Phil Jimerson of Great Valley, they were able to take a team to the Far West State qualifier, which was hosted in Cattaraugus.
In the 25 years that the program has been in existence, it would not have been possible without the community’s generous support and resources, as well as the great ball diamonds to play games on. We are hoping in 2015 to get the Ellicottville Village Park fields in tip-top shape to be able to offer some summer baseball tournaments to help build the Baseball and Softball programs for the local High Schools.
Of course, the program is always looking for volunteers and this year is no different, so if you would like to make a difference in a child’s life, please come out and join this great Little League Baseball and Softball program. The Kids of Little League would like to thank everyone from past, present and future and the School’s of Cattaraugus/Little Valley and Ellicottville for all their support.
The Little League is selling Gun Raffle tickets starting this week for $20. The funds raised will be used to help buy new bats, catchers’ equipment and helmets for the safety of all our children. The Raffle will be held on April 4 beginning at 5 p.m., at the Great Valley Fire Hall. To purchase raffle tickets or for more information, contact Todd Palmatier at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (716) 244-0964.