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West Mifflin parents upset with softball ruling

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Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 4:26 a.m.
 

Parents in one West Mifflin softball league said they are talking to legal counsel after borough council voted to give the leases for the four Camden Fields near Mifflin Estates to a rival league.

“West Mifflin Girls Softball Association did no wrongdoing and the decision was without reason,” that league's board of directors said in a statement to The Daily News on Wednesday night.

On Tuesday, council voted 7-0 to award the leases to the West Mifflin Baseball League and its affiliated West Mifflin Youth Softball League.

“There is a strong bond of trust that has been established that we take seriously,” said Scott Walker, who heads West Mifflin Baseball League and West Mifflin Youth Softball League.

The decision reversed a longtime tie between those fields and the West Mifflin Girls Softball Association, from which West Mifflin Youth Softball League broke off last year.

“This is a shame,” past association president Rich Crux said after the meeting.

The association said its efforts “added fields, fencing, bathrooms, refreshment stands, dugouts, a batting cage, garages, field lights on two fields, permanent foul lines, yellow fence surround (and) scoreboards” to a complex “where girls grew up, made friends and memories that will last a lifetime.”

On the other hand, parent Jennifer Nolla said her three daughters started out with the association but “are having a fantastic time” in the Youth Softball League.

“We did not want to choose one league over the other,” council president Michael Moses said.

Despite talks involving councilors Daniel Davis and Steve Marone in an attempt to find a compromise, Davis moved to award the leases to Walker's leagues.

Councilman Michael J. Olack seconded the Davis motion.

Marone reluctantly joined his colleagues, saying later it was “just because of unity on the council.”

“WMGSA (was) misled and manipulated as to the true intent of (a) council solution to have only one softball league in West Mifflin,” the association responded.

In its statement the association said it repeatedly asked about a new lease, only to be told the borough solicitor was working on one.

“Our job here is to provide the facilities and the best fields we can provide, to the organizations and to the kids,” Moses said prior to the vote. “There's a lot of emotion on both sides.”Much but not all of the emotion at Tuesday's meeting was expressed by supporters of Walker's leagues, who applauded after the 7-0 vote.

“Baseball and softball came together to form one league and it worked,” parent Bridget Lang argued.

As Walker said in September, 160 girls joined 330 boys in those leagues.

David Parkinson said the two leagues have a diverse board “not run by one or two families” and warned, “if you don't push for what is right there is a push to go to Munhall.”

Russell Fagan, in one of several emails from association supporters to The Daily News on Wednesday night, said he would “take what I have learned over the years to a new league in another borough in 2014,” adding, “I would rather do this than have my daughter around the types of people that ruined a great league.”

At Tuesday's meeting, Tracy Hirsh said she grew up with the association and wore a 14-year-old West Mifflin Girls Softball Association T-shirt to the council meeting to prove it.

“I don't understand why this is going on,” Hirsh told council, defending “the people who put dedication into those fields.”

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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