Batters Up for Local Little League
By Michael Brooks, Staff Writer
Young ball players have been meeting on the diamond to play Little League baseball for more than 80 years, and the youth league has become as iconic in American society as the adult sport. Today, Little League is returning to Jackson County. After all spring sports were shut down due to the coronavirus, young baseball players have been raring to go.
Industrial Little League was one of the first sports leagues in the county to get up and running again when they held their first practice of the season in late May.
“We will be practicing one day a week in June,” Industrial Little League Vice President Jeremy Krester said. “The season will last around five weeks with a break for the Fourth of July holiday.
“We will have two games a week for each division.”
With most area teams cancelling their Little League season, including Ganado and Edna, there was some concern for what teams Industrial would play, but a simple solution was reached.
“We will be just playing ourselves this year,” Krester said. “We have at least two teams per division. Since the kids will be playing the same people every game, we may have some fun in some of the games and let the kids choose the teams or something like that.”
Opening Day is scheduled for June 13, at the Industrial Little League fields in Inez, but that date is still very much up in the air.
“The Little League board is trying to comply with rules and regulation set forth by Governor Greg Abbott with best practice guidelines so opening day is tentative,” Industrial Little League President Jimmy Collins said. “We may have to wait until the following weekend.
“We are following the Youth Sports Organizers Checklist, a mandate put out by Gov. Abbott and we will have to make sure we can manage and follow the best practices,” Collins continued.
When opening day ceremonies do happen, it will be slightly different than previous years.
“On opening day we will have team pictures, a field dedication and just hang out,” Collins said. “There will be no games that day.”
The crowning jewel of opening day is the new T-Ball and T-Toss field, named after Hunter Smith who died tragically last June. The field will be dedicated to Hunter’s family during the opening day ceremonies.
The field has a version of the Green Monster in center field with a home run deck stationed above the fence, cell towers as foul poles, and a league standings board built into the outfield fence.
“We will be able to put the standing of up to five teams on the fence,” Krester said. “It may provide encouragement to some players to get their teams to play better so they can be on that list.”
The Little League board put together the field themselves and the home run deck was donated and built by Coastline Trailers. The roof on the home run deck will also get a plaque added to it that says Hunter Smith Field.
Whatever day the opening day ceremonies end up falling on, it looks to be a fun day.
“We want to make it a fun day for the kids,” Krester said. “We may do something like a home run derby and they may be something like fireworks that night.”
Visit the Industrial Little League Facebook page for further updates.