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March 17, 2010 > NCLL opens 45th year of hard ball

NCLL opens 45th year of hard ball

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo

Niles-Centerville Little League District 14 kicked off its 45th year of play on Saturday, March 13, after the annual opening ceremonies. But this year was a little different than the 44 years prior. Not only were the players and family members celebrating a new year on the diamond, all were able to honor the 2009 Senior Little League World Series runners up.

In front of the hundreds on the NCLL juniors field at Vallejo Mill Elementary School in Fremont, the West Regional representatives were honored for its 25-3 all star run (outscoring its opponents 98-43 in the process) which ended with a World Series championship game loss to Houston, Texas, 9-7, in Bangor, Maine.

Perry Romero, coach of the NCLL District 14 representative that advanced further than any other team in the league's history, thanked the community, family and friends of the team, and gave a special thanks to NCLL President Moira Jacobs, Vice President Neal Duffy and District 14 President Reggie Torres for "making this amazing run possible."

Romero awarded Jacobs with a West yellow jersey #15 (representing the number of players on the team), signed by all players and coaches for their appreciation of her work helping them get to Ontario, Calif., for the Regional Tournament and Bangor, Maine, for the World Series.

And in the coming weeks, the NCLL field at Vallejo Mill will dawn a new addition, a cast-iron, all-yellow, eight-foot bench in the bleachers, honoring the team from 2009, including a plaque with the specifics of the team's successes.

Niles resident and Oakland Raiders PA announcer Gary Williams emceed the event, which introduced all 24 NCLL teams from the T-Ball, Farm, Minor B, Minor A, Majors and Junior ranks. In addition to the 24 regular-season teams, the ceremonies honored the three 2009 Tournament of Champion (team that won District 14 championship) teams: Minor Angels, coached by Dan Duran; Junior Cubs, coached by Dustin Byerly; and Senior Nationals, coached by West assistant coach Mike Branco.

Two all star teams were honored for advancing beyond the sectional tournaments. In addition to the Senior team, coached by Romero, the 9-10 year-old all star team coached by Daren Courter advanced beyond the District 14 tournament before being ousted.

Youngster Isaac Huffman of the Minor A Phillies sung the National Anthem to get the ceremony started after all teams were announced and singer-songwriter Michael McNevin, along with all the ball players, sang "Take me out to the Ballgame" to conclude the ceremonies.

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