The East Surry Little League opened its 2017 season in festive fashion Saturday morning, gathering youngster, parents and supporters for a ceremony at the Armfield Civic Center Jack Palmer Field.
A day of youth baseball and softball began with the program’s traditional parade of teams. Beginning with the youngest, individual teams of players and their coaches marched down the first base line before circling home plate and gathering with their peers on the green grass just beyond the infield. As each team took its turn, every player’s name was announced over a PA system.
With more than 300 youths, along with coaches, finally assembled on the field, everyone paused as players recited the Little League pledge. Caps remained removed for singing of the national anthem.
Members of last year’s 12 and under league all-star team were then recognized. The team claimed the District II title and went on to finish second in the state.
In a powerful moment, Peyton Inscore then took the mound to throw out the season’s first pitch. Inscore had played in the program’s younger division before being sidelined by illness and eventually having two brain surgeries. After missing three years, he was allowed to return to baseball last fall and this year will be a member of the Major League Braves team.
Other activities included a home run derby, featuring 11 and 12-year-olds from the programs’ older divisions, and an assortment of inflatables for younger children.
The rest of the day was filled with baseball and softball with teams playing on multiple fields into the evening.
“It was a great day,” noted East Surry Little League President Jeremy Johnson, “with nearly perfect weather. We look forward to recognizing each child individually as a part of our program, with their parents watching.”
“And when we heard that the doctor was letting Peyton play, he was a natural choice to throw out our first pitch. We’ve all supported him throughout his illness and everybody is excited to have him back with us.”
Among the parents surrounding Palmer Field was Mike and Monica Plainte, supporting their 11-year-old son, Jackson.
“We’ve been getting ready,” Mike Plainte noted with a smile, “practicing and warming up in the cold. So this is nice.”
“This is something we look forward to,” he continued. “After being home all winter, we get to come out and watch the kids play. It’s a good time.”