The players have grabbed their gloves and bats and have taken to the field!
Arcadia Little League – which has been around since 1957 (65 years!) – started its official season with practice sessions in February. The first game was held on March 21. Games are played each day until the championship rounds begin in early May.
“We’re seeing enthusiasm from parents new to the league who are bringing their little ones to their first experience by playing tee-ball,” ALL President Cheri Pierce said. “Health and safety continue to be a concern among parents, so we are trying to bring confidence by adhering to SUSD guidelines.”
Pierce said that equipment shortages have compelled the league into being creative in sourcing catchers’ gear and other items. The league has also struggled with finding a solution to keep all three snack bars open for the season. For now, they will remain closed.
Regular practices teach and build upon fundamental softball and baseball skills. Warmups, pep talks, drills, skill-based exercises, scrimmages and batting practice are common. ALL typically keeps team rosters at nine to 13 players – with each age bracket, a total of 935 kids will play this year.
“I’ve been playing since kindergarten and I’m in fifth-grade this year,” student Caden Lewis said. “It’s a fun sport and I get to play with all my friends. We once got introduced at a Diamondbacks game!”
“We are always guiding our players toward the tools they need to succeed in life, both on and off the field, such as sportsmanship, team play, respect and fairness,” Pierce said. “We allow players to experience valuable life lessons, how to act as winners, and how to learn from failure.”
This is Pierce’s third season as president and 13th year with the league.
“In 2020, the board prepared as they normally would, and unfortunately, had to cancel. It put a strain on the league and volunteers. Not only were we worried about our families, jobs, and the world around us, we were trying to keep alive a little league that our community loves and our children need,” Pierce said.
Pierce explained that many Arizona little leagues never reopened because of financial strain.
“The reason we were able to reopen in 2021 and 2022 is because of our banner donors, families that opted out of their partial refunds, and all the managers that gave back equipment so we could reuse. I am so proud and grateful for the volunteers; without them, this league would not exist,” she said.
Arcadia Little League uses nine fields across three locations: Camelback Christian Church, Echo Canyon and Ingleside Middle School.
Catcher Jalen Knighton said his favorite part of being on the team is getting to play with his friends and rooting for their teams.
“My favorite memories are winning the state championship and going undefeated in the tournament,” he said.
Pierce also mentioned that ALL is looking for volunteers. Current opportunities include commissioner, communication officer, director of concessions, player agent, scholarship committee and social media officer.
“At the most basic level, baseball is America’s sport,” Pierce said. “It is easy to get lost in all of the grown-up concerns, but in the end, kids just want to be kids and play baseball. It’s a simple and powerful joy to see our players return year after year and grow within our little league community while building lifelong memories.”