NEW WINDSOR — The Carroll County Men's Softball League is back in the sports complex fold, but the jury is still out on how much time it will spend there.
The men's league voted to play at the Carroll County Sports Complex this year during a Feb. 25 meeting at New Windsor Middle School, reversing its earlier decision to leave the five-diamond complex north of Westminster.
That earlier decision resulted from the county's decision to giveCharles Carroll Recreation Council baseball and softball programs all five diamonds four evenings per week, and use Fridays to prepare the fields for weekend softball tournaments. The county said budget problems forced the end of Saturday field preparation.
Losing the early evening daylight hours meant the men's league would have to play nearly all games under the lights at an hourly cost of $20. League officials said the fee would have cost each team about $900 per season.
A breakthrough came when the men's league offering to pay overtimecost for Saturday field prep if the league could use three diamonds on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Rec and parks respondedby offering to pay the overtime but giving the league Tuesdays and Thursdays. The men's league accepted.
"The key was, we volunteered to put up the (overtime cost of) $1,700 to open it," said men's league Commissioner Ray Owings. "The following day, they had a miracle andfound the $1,700."
Recreation Bureau Chief Jeff Degitz cautioned that money will from the complex's regular maintenance budget.
To minimize night games, the men's league will open several weeks later than usual in mid-May, when Charles Carroll has nearly completed its season.
While one disagreement has ended, another has begun.
The men's league says Charles Carroll doesn't play enough games to justify use of the entire complex three nights per week. Owings says he prepared a schedule showing the rec council has far more diamond time than it needs.
He presented the schedule to Charles Carroll officials but said his suggestion that the men's league also use diamonds at the complex on Wednesday evenings was rejected.
"(Owings') schedule is numerically possible," said Charles Carroll baseball/softball commissioner Vernon Smith, but it would require his group to play on fields at Charles Carroll Elementary and on Cherrytown Road that it considers substandard.
Smith said he will ask the parks board to allow his group to retaining the three fields in question three nights per week. Charles Carroll also uses two other fields at the complex every night.
Smith also fired off a shot at the men's league.
"They keep changing their minds on what (nights) they want," Smith said. "This is totally unfair on the part of the men's league."