Branden Wenzloff, 12, plays for the Timber Rattlers and was upset when he saw massive damage to the ballfields.
by Ann Fowler
AUSTIN – A record rainfall— with measured totals in Oak Hill ranging from 9.53 to 11.26 inches over a six-hour period last Saturday night—caused Williamson Creek to overflow its banks, flooding homes and businesses, and making the Oak Hill baseball and softball fields unusable for the foreseeable future.
According to Stephen Bega, president of the Oak Hill Youth Sports Association (OHYSA), which owns and runs the sports complex at U.S. 290 West and Joe Tanner Lane, repair of the ballfields may cost $100,000.
The damage is a blow to an organization still reeling from the City of Austin’s recent decision to cancel the utility subsidy to OHYSA, which will result in a $40,000 budget shortfall for the sports group.
Bega told the Gazette, “I have no idea how much rain actually fell, but based on the debris on the fence line, we suspect we had standing water in the complex of at least four feet.”
OHYSA was in the midst of its Fall Ball season with approximately 750 local youngsters playing in baseball and softball games. The complex was busy with games scheduled every day of the week.
While the fields are unusable at this time, media reports of the demise of this year’s Oak Hill Fall Ball have been, in the words of Mark Twain, “greatly exaggerated.”
Upon hearing of the Oak Hill ballfield’s troubles, other area leagues quickly reached out with offers to use their fields to finish the season. Those leagues include Manchaca, Lake Travis, Hays, Western Hills, Dripping Springs and Cedar Park.
Said Bega, “We are suspending play on our fields for this season but will finish the season at other league facilities who have graciously allowed us to use them.”
He added, “We are determined to rebuild stronger than ever. We will not let this cancel our fall season. We will also be ready to go by the spring.”
Denise Wenzloff, whose son Branden plays Fall Ball in Oak Hill, told the Gazette, “I think it is wonderful that surrounding youth baseball leagues would be willing to help. My son has played at Oak Hill for many seasons and it offers friendship, leadership and a chance for the kids to see competition in a fun setting.”
Added Wenzloff, “The board, coaches, parents, kids and volunteers are all very close and the loss of the location is still going to be a challenge.” Playing elsewhere brings time and transportation challenges for all involved.
Bega is grateful for the support his organization has received from the community. He said, “We’ve heard from other leagues, from former parents and local businesses offering all kinds of assistance.” Experts offering assistance include the Round Rock Express and Ryan Sanders Turf Services.
A league-wide meeting will be held Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at United Methodist Church, 7815 U.S. 290 West in Oak Hill.
Bega said, “I am so proud to be this league’s president and look forward to tackling the challenge ahead of us.”
Anyone wishing to assist in any way can contact the board directly at email@example.com or go to the OHYSA Website, www.ohysa.com.