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The tradition of WCLL is stronger than ever

Last Thursday, prior to the opening day of the first game of Little League T-Ball level at Hurt Field in Montross, an eagle flew over the ballpark. Whether the sighting of bird was a patriotic symbolic gesture of good sportsmanship or a sign that baseball’s rite of athletic passage was in full effect, the reality that everyone felt, before and after the event, was a shared communion of fun and relaxation.
In keeping with tradition, the Westmoreland County Little League (WCLL) officials withdrew the usual pomp and circumstance associated with throwing out the first pitch and opening day speeches to focus solely on the game itself.  Images of Dodgers, Marlins, Twins, and Athletics T-Ball teams lined up along the baselines singing the national anthem, and gave new meaning to community pride. The parking lot at Hurt Field was packed to capacity with parents committed to providing support to WCLL.

Other WCLL games featured over the weekend involved: Diamondbacks vs. Braves; RipTide vs. Heat; Richmond County Bandits vs. Force; Cardinals vs. Pirates; Orioles vs. Yankees; Mets vs. Indians; Phillies vs. Nationals; Westmoreland vs. King George.
For three days, Little League competition would take place on Hurt Field as it will be at Hamblin Field as the season progresses.  The sports confines were named in honor of long time Westmoreland County Little League icons Buddy Hurt and Beale Hamblin.
More than 300 players are actively competing in Little League this season. The cost of Little League activities is not cheap by any standard. It costs more than $40,000 a year to run the program. With fees from registration, a donation from the county and money from fundraisers, the program is financially solvent for the current year. Like any program, fundraising and finance is an ongoing process.
Historically, Little League is deeply rooted within the Westmoreland community. After 40 years of competing in the community, featuring 25 years at Hurt Field, the game has become more than an event, it has instilled a rite of passage amongst players, coaches and parents.
The link between the brotherhood of baseball, basketball and football championships associated between Westmoreland County schools and Little League is a matter of historical record. A brief glimpse at the list of sports legends (Michael Clark, Albert Haskins, the Swope brothers, Brent Steffey, Mike Baskeyfield, T.T. Carey, Russell Tate, Steven Taylor, etc.) is a testament of the character instilled into the youth of the Westmoreland Community.
Westmoreland County Little League president Greg Wright is a firm believer that the atmosphere surrounding Little League baseball is a priceless commodity that will forever be essential to growth of young men and women.
“The beauty of Little League Baseball is that you can have kids out there at any age, fighting tooth and nail for a baseball game,” Wright said. “When the game is over, you’ll often see a bunch of kids rolling around in the dirt in their uniforms. The only thing kids understand is that they’re out there doing something they love.”
Like all of the coaches associated with WCLL, Wright grew up in Westmoreland County playing Little League baseball. He coached Little League for 14 years, and he is entering his sixth year as the league’s president.
“The wonderful thing about Little League is that kids don’t care if you’re from Sandy Point, Colonial Beach or Montross,” Wright said. “The only thing they care about is that they are out there having a good time.”
From now until the week of playoffs, Little League games will take place throughout the week. Questions concerning games can be address to Wright by calling (804) 493-0505.

Leonard M. Banks
Sports Editor

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