Little League Baseball opening ceremonies Saturday

Now in its second year, the revamped North Big Horn County Little League Baseball program, fully sanctioned under the rules of Little League Baseball – started play this week with a slate of Majors and Minors games ahead of opening-day ceremonies Saturday at the Northeast Little League Park.

Like last year, the Little League program has been divided up into four leagues this season to match athletes with similar skills: tee ball, coach pitch, minors and majors.

Games began this week with two games Tuesday and two more scheduled for Thursday. There are also two games scheduled on Saturday.

Opening Day activities scheduled for Saturday include team photos, a hit-a-thon, opening ceremonies, a carnival in the park and a first-pitch ceremony at each field.

Team photos will begin at 8 a.m., and after each photo, teams will proceed to one of the two fields for the hit-a-thon. The concession stand will be open for breakfast.

The opening ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will include a flag-raising ceremony, the pledge of allegiance, the singing of the National Anthem by Calvin Mickelson accompanied by father Dane Mickelson on the trumpet, the recitation of the Little League pledge and welcoming remarks. Team photos and the hit-a-thon will continue at 11 a.m.

A ceremonial first pitch will be delivered before the Red Sox-Dodgers minor league game at noon at the North field and again before the Cards-Phillies minor league game at 2 p.m. at the South field.

Concessions featuring a cheeseburger meal deal will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a Carnival of Events will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. including a speed gun to test pitching speed, a dunk tank, face painting, a jump house and a pop toss.

According to Little League board member Tommy Flood, naming rights for the fields during Little League games have led to the South field being called AMCOL Field and the North field being called Coach One Eye Field. The Cowley Town Park field will be known as Miller Fab Field for the summer, as well.

Here’s a look at the four leagues that have been formed this year.

Tee ball – ages 5-6. Tee ball is for young, first-time players, and six teams have been formed: the Big Horn Engraving Thunder, coached by Shane and Sara Walker; the Minchow’s Sinclair Storm, coached by Ryan Felkins and Austin Layne; the MDU Paw Sox, coached by Jason Sumaya; the Nordenstam Masonry Sand Gnats, coached by Paul Pederson, Daniel Robertson and Kris Brimhall; the Pizza on the Run Knights, coached by Ryan and Camaren Boettcher; and the Wyoming Lime Producers Volcanoes, coached by Shane Clendenen.

Games will begin later in May, and no score will be kept. Games will be played to four innings or 70 minutes, whichever comes first. Games will be played at the Lovell West Field, the Lovell Northeast Park, the Byron field, the Rocky Mountain Elementary School field, the Cowley Town Park and the Frannie ballfield.

Coach pitch – ages 6-8. Coach pitch is for young players with a year of tee ball under their belts or any child 7 to 8 years old with no experience. Again, no score will be kept, and games will be four or five innings, or 90 minutes, whichever comes first. A pitching machine will be used when possible. Games will be played at the Lovell West, the Northeast Park and the Byron and Cowley town parks.

There are six coach pitch teams: the Brandin’ Iron Bats, coached by Marie McCollam and Vince McCollam; the Midway Auto Hot Rods, coached by Brandon Jolley; the Lovell Drug Bulls, coached by Shem McArthur; the Lovell Building Center Express, coached by Toby Collins and Dane Mickelson; the Mountain Construction Lug Nuts, coached by Larry Woodington; and the Mountain Valley Homes River Cats, coached by Doug, Vicki and Marissa Arnold.

Minors – ages 8-10. This is a mid-level kid-pitch league with regulation Little League rules. There will be a pitch count kept for all pitchers. With kids just learning to pitch, there will be a five-run maximum for each inning per team. Games will be played at the Northeast Park, the Byron field and the Cowley field. Games will be six innings with a 1 hour, 30 minute time limit.

The four Minors teams include: the 4N Trucking Phillies, coached by Dan Toner; the Ink Spot Cardinals, coached by Jason Sumaya; the Bairco Dodgers, coached by Ryan Mangus; and the Lovell Redi-Mix Red Sox, coached by Todd Herman.

Majors – ages 11-12. Again, regulation Little League rules will be used, and a pitch count will be kept. Games will be played to six innings. A 10-run rule will apply after the fourth inning. Games will be played at the Northeast Park and the Byron and Cowley fields.

Teams are the Conoco Braves, coached by John Schneider; the TCT Diamondbacks, coached by Keith McIntosh; and the Home Tech Solutions Twins, coached by Stacy Horrocks.

The only major rule change this season is the dropped third strike rule, where when first base in unoccupied, a batter may attempt to advance to first base on a third strike if the catcher drops the ball.

By David Peck