YOUTH BASEBALL

Cedar Lake Youth Baseball now part of Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth

2014-01-17T22:00:00Z 2014-01-18T01:15:10Z Cedar Lake Youth Baseball now part of Cal Ripken/Babe RuthJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

CEDAR LAKE | It wasn't that long ago when it was all the same for Jeff Austgen.

"I used to refer to all youth baseball as Little League baseball," he said. "I wasn't aware of the other options."

Last year, Austgen was president of the Cedar Lake Little League. A coach with three boys in the league -- Danny, Joe and Josh -- Austgen couldn't remember a time when Cedar Lake wasn't associated with Little League.

"I'm not too sure, but I believe we've been chartered (with Little League) since 1972," Austgen said. "Though there is an old flier (posted at a local restaurant) for a fundraiser for Cedar Lake Babe Ruth dated back to 1959."

Babe Ruth is affiliated with Cal Ripken. The former is for ages 13-18; the latter 12 and under.

Though some youth leagues opt for Little League for its younger players and Babe Ruth for its older, Cedar Lake was all in for Little League, meaning utilizing the organization's Junior, Senior and Big league divisions at older levels.

For the 2014 season, the re-titled Cedar Lake Youth Baseball League will be a chartered Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth organization.

"It was something we decided to do back in November," Austgen said. "We had a big turnout for our last board meeting to discuss the change, and for the most part everyone was for it."

Cedar Lake joins a growing number of youth baseball organizations who have switched to Cal Ripken from Little League.

Eight years ago, Crown Point made the switch and last summer its 12U team won the Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series hosted by Hammond Optimist Youth Sports.

"There were a lot of reasons, but travel ball was one of the main ones for us," Austgen said. "We thought Cal Ripken was much better suited in allowing our travel teams to play more throughout the season."

CLYB vice-president Karen Balich hopes the change will revitalize the league's Babe Ruth-aged division.

"There aren't too many Senior or Big League programs around here to play against compared to Babe Ruth," she said. "Now that we're a part of Babe Ruth, we're hoping to get more older kids to come out."

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