Japan and Okinawa drew host rights to DODEA Pacific’s first Far East High School baseball, track and field, and softball tournaments — slated for mid- to late-May — DODEA Pacific officials announced Tuesday.

The schedule shapes up like this:

Baseball and softball are on tap May 17-20, with baseball to be hosted by Zama American and played at Camp Zama’s Rambler Field and Naval Air Facility Atsugi’s Bandy Field. Softball is to be hosted by Kadena and played at Kadena Air Base’s FourDiamonds Complex.Track and field follows on May 24 and 25 at Kubasaki High School’s Mike Petty Stadium.DODEA Pacific announced in late January that the three sports were to be added for this school year to the Far East Activities Calendar.

“It’s only possible because of the new ticketing policy and the cost savings realized from it,” DODEA Pacific’s Far East Athletic Council chairman Don Hobbs said.

He referred to the more than 50 percent savings generated over last year by contracting local vendors to ticket students for travel to Far East tournaments, instead of on-base government travel agencies which are far more expensive.

Work still needs to be done to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s, Hobbs said.

Formats for the softball and baseball tournaments are “under construction,” Hobbs said, and will be made public when available, as will the track and field events and format.

Hobbs did say that only DODEA Pacific schools will participate, that only schools having those sports sponsored by the schools would participate, and that Class AA and Class A schools will participate as one “for this first year.”

“Discussion will occur before, during and after the events, to determine parameters for future Far East events in these sports,” Hobbs said.

Baseball and softball teams will be allowed to bring 15 players, a coach and a chaperone each, while the size of track and field teams is “to be determined,” Hobbs said.

Whether international or other non-DODEA schools will play in those and other Far East tournaments in the future will likely be an agenda item at the next Far East Activities Council meeting later this month, Hobbs said, adding that “it looks promising.”

Non-DODEA schools were excluded from Far East wrestling, cross country and tennis tournaments starting in fall 2004, and a large segment of DODEA coaches have expressed a desire to bring them back.

Prior to the adding of baseball, softball, and track and field as Far East tournament sports, the only events that came close to a state championship were invitational tournaments in each sport.

Track and field had the Mike Petty Memorial meet in early April and the Kanto Plain Invitational in mid-May. Baseball’s Kanto Plain Invitational a year ago welcomed Kubasaki of Okinawa and Seoul American for the first time, and the DODEA Japan softball tournament had Kadena as an invited guest.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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