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March 11, 2009 > Ready to play ball

Ready to play ball

I Trust in God
I Love my country and will respect its laws
I will play fair and strive to win but win or lose I will always do my best

Little League Pledge


Sunshine prevailed as the Niles-Centerville Little League (NCLL) opened its 2009 season March 7 on groomed fields located behind Vallejo Mill School. NCLL is part of District 14 which includes six leagues in Fremont and two in Newark. Exuberant teams took their place for subsequent ceremonies while parents and friends cheered. As they marched, ran and leaped onto the field, each player represented thousands of their counterparts across the nation who greet the lengthening days of spring with bat, ball and glove.

Although Daylight Savings Time officially began the next day there was still plenty of warm sunlight for the ceremonies. Swaggering veteran players, many returning from 2008 championship caliber teams, briefly shared the spotlight with eager first-time players. The hills above NCLL playing fields were green from recent rains creating a beautiful setting as teams in colorful uniforms got ready for the first "Play Ball" of 2009.

Comedic Master of Ceremonies Gary Williams, "The Voice of NCLL" introduced managers and players of successful 2008 teams along with sponsors and volunteers for the 2009 season. Recognition was given to three 2008 District 14 Champions - Mets, Giants and White Sox. Niles Centerville also was home to Junior and Senior All Star champions, Senior All Star champions in Section 3 and third place in California Division 2 competition. Some young players seemed more interested in playing tag than the finer points of the game but once competition began, they enjoyed participating even if they needed a bit of guidance about playing positions, hitting and running between bases.

NCLL is composed of Seniors (15-17-year-olds) and Juniors (ages 13-14) who play on regulation size playing fields with 90 foot base paths and 60'6" pitching distances. Normal games last seven innings. In addition, Minors A and B, and Farm, use a smaller or softball size playing field of 60 foot base paths and a 46 foot pitching distance; normal games are six innings. The NCLL complex includes a large field, two small fields - one using a pitching machine for the younger players and a field for the youngest kids (age four and older) that hit from a tee. Great food from a well-stocked snack bar and batting cages make NCLL one of the best facilities in the country for Little League Baseball.

Following opening ceremonies, a Challenger game (for Little Leaguers with disabilities) was played on the large field using shorter base paths and pitching by adults. Disabled batters, fielders and base runners were assisted by Little Leaguers without disabilities. NCLL Challenger Division teams compete with each other during the season.

All fields were busy throughout Opening Day as everyone began the 2009 season with high hopes and an agenda of fun. Good luck to all NCLL teams, players and all-stars for a successful 2009 Little League season.

"Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd..."


To volunteer, sponsor the league or just come by to see a great part of Americana, go to http://eteamz.active.com/nc for team schedules. There is no charge to watch a game and no better way to spend a warm afternoon.

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