Four states to be represented at tournament, games to be held at Tony Kawlewski Field
By Chad Koenen
Eight of the best Babe Ruth baseball teams from the Midwest will converge on Henning, Ottertail and Battle Lake this week for the 2023 Midwest Plains Babe Ruth Regional Tournament. The winner of the tournament, which includes some teams who have more people living in a sub division in their community than the entire town of Henning, will advance to the Babe Ruth World Series that will be held in New York in August.
The opportunity to host the national tournament came about like many great opportunities in life—simply being in the right place at the right time.
“It was Minnesota’s turn and they saw what we did hosting the state tournament for 15u and they said ‘it is yours if you want it,’” said Babe Ruth coach Evan Meece. “It is just the right place at the right time.”
This isn’t the first time that Henning and Otter Tail Central have hosted a major summer baseball tournament. Last year the community hosted the 13u state baseball tournament, which featured 10 teams from across west central and northern Minnesota.
OTC received a taste of what to expect when hosting the tournament when its Babe Ruth team advanced to the Midwest Plains Babe Ruth tournament last season. That time around the tournament was held in Rapid City, S.D., about as big of a difference in size and experience as there can be from central Otter Tail County.
“We had been planning for close to a year,” said Meece. “It’s been a slow planning process. It was officially ours since October and we have been planning ever since.”
Meece said the honor to host the Midwest tournament was made even more special when he looked at the list of past hosts for the tournament, many of which come from much larger communities than Henning and Battle Lake.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” he said. “It’s a good chance to show what small town Minnesota is all about.”
The Babe Ruth tournament is open to teams from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. A total of eight teams will participate in the tournament, which will begin on Thursday.
The eight teams include: Border, Colo.; Charleston, Mo.; Williston, N.D.; a second state champion from North Dakota and four teams from Minnesota including Fergus Falls, Otter Tail Central, Moorhead and Breckenridge. All games will be held at Tony Kawlewski Field in Henning, however, the Battle Lake baseball field will be used as a back up in the event of inclement weather.
All of the teams will play one game a day and the host location will be Thumper Pond in Ottertail. OTC’s first game will be held on Thursday at 4 p.m. against Charleston, Mo.
The tournament will wrap up on Sunday with the championship game at 4 p.m.
On Wednesday there will be a banquet with guest speaker Mike Max at 6:30 p.m. at the Lions Shelter in Henning. A fireworks display will take place on Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Tony Kawlewski Field.
The champions from the 2023 Midwest Plains Babe Ruth Regional Tournament will advance to the World Series in Jamestown, N.Y. that will be held from August 12-19.