A quiet spring night in May was suddenly interrupted by the yells, whoops and cheers of Arcadia’s Little League teams as they took to the baseball field at Ingleside Middle School for the last hurrah of the season, otherwise known as the Home Run Derby.
Young athletes from ALL’s majors’ division were nominated by managers to compete in the fourth annual competition. A maximum of four players per team were split into two groups made up of 12 and 13-year-olds.
“Little League organizations have the opportunity to bring this highly competitive event to their ball fields. This year, we allowed the winner of our event to move on to compete with others in their age group,” ALL President Cheri Pierce said.
The competition works like this: A pitching machine delivers baseballs to the batter, who has 90 seconds to hit as many home runs as possible over the 200-foot temporary fence.
This year, the player with the most home runs received a trophy. Cooper Fitzgerald was the winner of the 12-year-old group, with 13 home runs, and Braxton Tate was the winner of the 13-year-old group with 23.
Good Morning Arizona Sports Anchor Mark McClune was the emcee at this year’s event. There was also live DJ music.
“So many kids had the opportunity to hit home runs. It was a lot of fun to be part of this,” teammate Harrison Ladner said.
“I ended my Arcadia Little League career with a ‘bang,’” teammate Bentley Elrod said. “ALL is at the center of our neighborhood all spring. It was a perfect ending to close out my career competing with my buddies one last time.”
While the regular season ended in May, the older division competed in playoff games at the end of the month. A few lucky athletes represented ALL in the District 6 Tournament on June 14 and did well, with Arcadia advancing to the state tournament in mid-July.
Planning has already started for the upcoming season. The league is in the process of helping a local elementary school rebuild its baseball diamond.
“Having more fields only benefits our youth and not only in the sport of baseball/softball. Our neighborhood is established, and we do not have the room to add a playground or field for our children to play on. If we can give them a safe place to be kids, we will,” Pierce said.
The organization is also looking to rebuild the concession stand at Camelback Christian Church.
“We are not just about baseball/softball,” Pierce said. “Arcadia Little League prides itself in the ability to provide the youth of our community with an environment in which they can learn and develop athletic skills, as well as life skills.”