Opening Day Hits A Home Run in the Tri-Community

PHOTO: T.A. Graydon - NewsPlus

Serrano High School Senior Varsity Pitcher Evan Arnold puts one down the middle for his coaches and teammates.

With so much athletic ability in the Tri-Community, several baseball organizations are needed to accommodate it. These are the Sunset Community Little League, Wrightwood Little League, and the Adult Softball League. Spring signifies the beginning of baseball season, with Sunset Community Little League and Wrightwood Little League honoring America’s favorite pastime with opening day events.

Wrightwood Little League held its Opening Day Ceremony on Saturday, April 1st. The festivities almost didn’t happen due to the recent snow storms. But, the event took place on time and was made possible by the countless volunteers who came together at the last minute to shovel snow and prep the fields just two days before the big event.

Wrightwood Little League Board President, Cory Thompson, made a speech thanking everyone who was able to lend a hand, saying, “Probably the most humbling experience I’ve ever had in my life is posting something on Instagram and pulling up to the field and probably seeing like 30 people out here with shovels. So over the last two days, I want to say ‘thank you’ to all the volunteers that came out and made this happen.”

Little league teams enthusiastically run onto the field once their team name is announced. (Photo: Leandra Moreno-Prince)

As the various team names were announced, players ran under a balloon arch onto the Wrightwood Elementary baseball field for the beginning of the ceremony, which included presenting the colors by local Boy Scout Troop 351, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. A pancake breakfast was prepared by San Bernardino County Fire and McDonald’s of Phelan. Big Foot Coffee Company also served fresh coffee at the event, where a portion of their proceeds went back to the little league organization. Smokey the Bear appeared on the ball field along with other members of the US Forest Service.

Several games were scheduled throughout the day and into the evening, but the league recognized last year’s Wrightwood All-Star 8-10 Year Old Division Champions before the games began. The winning players stood on home plate as their new District 49 2022 Championship banner was unveiled and now hangs proudly above center field for all to see.

The Wrightwood Little League is now looking forward to hosting the MLB Pitch, Hit, and Run Competition on Saturday, April 15th, in Wrightwood, featuring both baseball and softball players ages 7-14 from Wrightwood Little League and Phelan’s Sunset Community Little League.

The Sunset Community Little League also presented its Opening Day festivities for the 2023 Baseball Season on Saturday, April 1, 2023, with much fanfare and excitement. The Phelan Elementary baseball diamond was sparkling with colorful, uniformed, little-league players and their parents, organizers, and vendors, anticipating a capacity crowd in the shadows of the snow-clad San Gabriel Mountains. San Bernardino County Fire, Sheriffs, and Search and Rescue were all on hand to support this yearly event. Patriotic bunting and billboard board advertising adorned the baseball field, just like in the big leagues.

ME-10 Firetruck and crew from Pinon Hills San Bernardino Fire Station 10 and little leaguers Autumn and Joanne representing Sunset Community Little League. (Photo: T.A. Graydon)

Phelan Elementary campus buzzed that morning with a “You couldn’t have asked for better weather” feeling. The line for the Sunset Community Little League Pancake Breakfast, sponsored by The Ranch Steakhouse in Phelan, stretched out into the school grounds, with the hungry crowd entertained by the little leaguers posing for team pictures in the Cafetorium. Snacks and beverages were also available from the “Street Sweets” snacks trailer. To work off those calories, Mike Suchamel, Owner of Anytime Fitness at Sunshine Plaza, was on deck with fitness membership discount packages.

All 25 teams round the bases team by team in a show of baseball fanfare. (Photo: T.A. Graydon)

Perhaps “If you clean it, they will come.” could have been the motto of the Phelan Elementary baseball field. The grass, concession booth, and bleachers having been spruced up by a few organized “Field Days,” where the community was invited to clean up and paint the park for the new season. The parking area was packed with vehicles, where Sunset Community Little League President Jonathon Cisneros was directing traffic. Pleased with the attendance, Jonathon mentioned the difficulties launching the 2023 season and how they were worth every bit of trouble to see the kids play baseball. This is his first year as president of the little league, which judging from the looks of things, promises to be a hit out of the park.

DJ Darrel of Reliable Entertainment provided the audio equipment and Master of Ceremonies responsibilities, including the introduction of Pastor Flores from Calvary Chapel in Phelan for the Opening Day Prayer. The audio was crystal clear for the Invocation and the introduction of the Sunset Community Little League 2023 Board of Directors, with the 120 volunteers that will make this season happen. Sunset Community Little League Baseball President Cisneros recognized the Board and turned the crowd’s attention to the American Flag being presented by The Serrano High School Honor Guard. Pinon Mesa Middle School 8th Grader Mia Stanfield performed an inspiring National Anthem for all to enjoy and applaud.

The Lombardi family Vince, Kimberly, and Brian receive “HOMETOWN HERO” awards for their service to the Tri-Community. (Photo: T.A. Graydon)

Recognizing their contributions to the Tri-Community, The Lombardi family of Pizza Factory, Paizly Vintage Antiques, and the Ranch Steakhouse in Historic Phelan received “HOMETOWN HERO” plaques to commemorate exceptional service to the community. Also being recognized were Daniel and Elana Flores and the Flores family for their ongoing service to the church and community by allowing them the honor of throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day. After reciting the traditional (since 1950) “Little League Pledge,” The 25 Little League Teams systematically ran the bases in a showcase of baseball fanfare at its best.

Board Member and Public Information Officer Rio Long commenting on the feedback she was getting from the parents and coaches, said about the event, “It is a great start to the new and improved Sunset Community Little League!” Now, let’s get out to the park and, “Play ball!”

Game schedules and team standings can be found on the Sunset Little League and Wrightwood Little League websites. We’re all looking forward to a fun season and hopefully get to see another Championship win from one of our Tri-Community teams.

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