Butler County American Legion Baseball is out. The Butler County Area Baseball League is in.
Besides the name change, it is business as usual for the summer baseball circuit, with new officers in place.
Larry Stelitano, manager of the league’s Cranberry team, is the BCABL president. Des Schnur, East Butler’s manager, is vice president and Meridian manager Tyler Friel is secretary-treasurer.
“We haven’t been involved with American Legion Baseball for five years or so,” Stelitano said. “The American Legion organization came to two of our meetings with a proposal to bring us back in.
“They wanted to split our league into two divisions. With the national, local and insurance fees we would have had to pay, we’d have to charge another $150 per team to be in the league. That would have wiped out our scholarship program as well.
“Their proposal just didn’t fit well with our league,” Stelitano added.
The league has expanded to nine teams this season, with Freeport and Kiski joining returnees West Sunbury, Karns City, East Butler, Center Township, Meridian, Cranberry and Saxonburg.
“We want to give more kids the opportunity to play baseball,” Schnur said. “That’s what we’re about. Expanding our range of teams will provide better competition.”
The BCABL’s scholarship program remains intact. Three $1,000 scholarships will be presented to deserving graduating seniors “and that may jump to four this year,” Stelitano said.
“That program is especially nice for kids who have played in this league for a few years and can use it to help further their education,” Schnur said.
Ages of players in the league will continue to be 15-19. The bulk of the league will consist of 17 to 19-year-olds.
“Some of the teams may go younger, based on numbers,” Stelitano said.
The Butler County Area Baseball League is scheduled to begin the 2018 season Tuesday. The league’s All-Star Game will be July 9 at Kelly Automotive Park.
The league championship game — and culmination of the postseason double-elimination tournament — will be played July 24 at the KAP.
“I think we’re going to have a balanced league,” Schnur said. “Returning champion Saxonburg, West Sunbury and Karns City should be strong. Butler’s high school team will have players on the Center Township, East Butler and Meridian rosters.
“The bottom line is that a lot of high school players in this area will be playing summer baseball in our league. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Stelitano said all nine teams will participate in the tourney, though the bottom two teams in the standings will meet for a one-game play-in game.
“The regular season will mean a lot in terms of seeding,” Stelitano said. “We expect to have a competitive, wide-open season.”