By Dean Palmer - Special to the News

All eyes will be on the parade of local youths this Saturday at the Armfield Civic and Recreation Center as the East Surry Little League (ESLL) celebrates the opening of its 2017 season.

The festive day will begin with a ceremony surrounded by recognitions, games, food and fellowship, followed by a full day of youth baseball and softball.

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with the program’s traditional parade of teams onto Jack Palmer Field where each player and coach will be individually recognized. Others to be recognized will include sponsors while a pair of past program participants will be honored by throwing out the opening pitches for both the baseball and softball seasons.

Also returning will be a home run derby, featuring 11 and 12-year-olds from the programs’ older divisions.

Other activities during the family-themed day will be inflatables the youngsters and plenty of barbecue, provided by 13 Bones Restaurant. Concessions stands will be open throughout the day.

According to East Surry Little League President Jeremy Johnson, over 300 youths will take part in the upcoming season, ranging in age from 4 to 12 years old.

Youths are divided by age into appropriate divisions. Divisions include a T-Ball league, machine-pitch divisions for both softball and baseball along with player pitch divisions, also for softball and baseball.

Some 14 games, featuring teams in eachl division, will take place throughout the afternoon on multiple Armfield Center fields.

“Our sign-ups went great,” Johnson said. “This will be the second consecutive year we’ve had over 300 kids take part. We have twenty-eight teams that have been practicing throughout the month of March and now everybody is ready to play some ball.”

“This gives us a chance to get our kids out here together on one day, with everybody having a chance to participate and be recognized. It starts us out right and sets the tone for the season.”

Recent years have seen ESLL teams continue the league’s history of success. Last year’s 12U all-star team claimed the District 11 championship and went on to finish second in the state. And the 2015 10U team was even more impressive, bringing home the District 11 and state titles. That team went on to claim the eight-state regional championship.

“We’re proud of this program,” Johnson said, “and of the number of kids who come out. That’s impressive for the size of our community. We’ve grown over the past 4 or 5 years and we’ve been able to keep the program’s tradition of excellence going. Our community support has been awesome, from local businesses to parents and volunteers. We’re pleased with the quality of our program.”

By Dean Palmer

Special to the News

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