Not even a global pandemic could stop Illinois’ longest running Little League tournament from pushing forward.
The Roy A. Overholt Tournament, which has been held in Brookfield since 1963, took place from Oct. 3-10 and featured five Little League teams from around the area. Western Springs went undefeated to capture the tournament’s 57th title.
After there was a possibility of a Little League season not happening at all, president of Brookfield Little League Katie Nasti remained hopeful the tournament could move forward despite the current circumstances.
“Our thing at the beginning [of the pandemic] was ‘let’s get the season going and see where it takes us,'” said Nasti. “We always thought that if we could keep this tradition going we would. Towards the end of the playoffs, we sat down with the board and talked more seriously about it. By the end of those talks we decided if there was interest we would do it.”
After Nasti reached out to the other neighboring Little League presidents who were still in-season about their interest in participating in the tournament, Nasti heard back from all five of them within 24 hours.
The next hurdle was making sure the tournament could be conducted safely and ensuring certain precautions were taken, since each team had been following different rules from their respective leagues.
“We were fortunate enough to have our safety officer work in health care, I used to work in health care and one of the parents who works close with the league is a virologist,” said Nasti, “So we did our best to come up with a plan and made the changes that were necessary for our regular season and for this tournament.”
Some of the safety shifts included moving the home plate umpire from behind the plate to behind the pitcher, having a part of the bleachers sectioned off for players only so they could be spaced out and having umpires and coaching staffs wear masks while they were out on the field.
Tony St. Paul, a member of the Brookfield Umpire Association, thought the league did a good job pulling off the tournament and season despite dealing with a pandemic.
“In terms of us umping we can adapt to anything,” said St. Paul. “The biggest difference is not being able to see a breaking ball crossing the plate but that’s it. They added extra umpires to help us out and overall this went real smooth. It was a fun year.”
As for the results of the tournament, Western Springs bashed its way to a 4-0 record. After Brookfield beat Riverside on Oct. 5, Western Springs sent Brookfield into the loser’s bracket to face LaGrange Park two days. But, Brookfield couldn’t quite pull out the win, finishing third in the tournament.
Western Springs won 5-1 over La Grange Park in the championship game on Oct. 9 to capture the title.
“I think it’s great how all of these little leagues came together to make this work,” said Western Springs coach Larry Montgomery. “Everybody did a great job to pull it off and I am glad the kids got to do this.”
Mrs. Overholt, who usually makes an appearance during the tournament since she lives down the block from the field, was not seen at Overholt Field for this year’s championship, according to Nasti.