The two Grand Island youth baseball programs will be joining forces.

Starting in 2020, the Grand Island Youth Baseball and Northwest Little League programs will merge into one. The official name of the league will be determined at a later date.

Northwest Little League President Tony Chapman said it’s an exciting opportunity for all the Grand Island youth baseball players.

“It will make youth baseball a better product for all children here and in the surrounding area,” Chapman said in a news release. “We are grateful for the support and outreach of Grand Island Youth baseball in making this happen for our community.”

The two leagues will combine to use all of the fields they have used in the past, which includes George Park, Methodist Fields, VFW Park, Ryder Park, Abbott Park and Ashley Field.

The leagues will run many divisions as possible up to 16-year-olds, but there will also be a Little League World Series tournament team that will be for players ages 11-12. To be eligible, players must simply play 60 percent of the league games for the “tournament” teams. Postseason play begins with local district, then the state tournament. The Nebraska winner advances to the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis and the winner moves on to Williamsport. There will also be a “Minors” team (ages 9-10) that advances to a state championship. There will also be tee-ball and coach-pitch leagues.

Every kid is welcomed to play in the league, no matter the level they play at, even if they play for a travel team during the weekend. It’s a chance for players to develop their skills at any position and make new friends.

Also, the league plans to make no changes from the current set up with the Northwest Little League for softball. It will just be under the Grand Island Little League umbrella moving forward. All players currently eligible to play in the league will remain eligible to play.

Grand Island Youth Baseball President Patrick Harder said the league is an exciting change for youth baseball in Grand Island.

“Bringing kids together from all over our city and being united will make Grand Island baseball better in the future,” he said in a release. “No matter the brand of baseball you are currently playing, Little League brings additional opportunities for kids who play baseball in our town which will enhance their love for the game as they grow up.”

Additional information will continue to be made about the new league at later dates.

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