Play ball!

Karen Kissiah

April 10, 2014

Families and friends of all ages gathered at Arrowhead Park last Saturday to mark the opening day of youth baseball and softball programs through the Cheraw Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services.

The annual ceremony, which introduced members of the Recreation Commission and Cheraw Town Council, was short, but games and other activities were scheduled at the park all day long. Many families planned picnic lunches and enjoyed the playground area with younger, or older, children than those playing ball.

Jay Bennett, director of the Cheraw Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services, introduced each of the teams as they made their ceremonial lap around the bases. Bennett emphasized the importance of community volunteers for the success of Cheraw’s recreational ball teams and announced the winner of the annual Jimmy Duffy Volunteer of the Year. That honor this year was given to Kary Dinkins, of Cheraw.

More than 300 local boys and girls, ages 3 to 12, are enrolled in the program and each of the 19 teams are coached by volunteers.The youngest of these athletes are just 3 and 4 years old. Their league is called Buddy Ball.

There are five T-ball teams, ages 5 to 6. Chris Logan is the head coach for the Crown team in this league. Barry Driggers coaches BFG Industries; Keith Thomas, Ingram Insurance; John Witherspoon, Agape; and Wesley Hatcher, Founders.

In the Coach Pitch league, ages 7 to 8, Tim Adams coaches Carolina Canners; David Rainwater, 1st Franklin; David Thompson, The Link; and Josh White, Pee Dee Outfitters.

For ages 9 to 10, the Dixie Minors, there are three teams. Rotary Club is being coached by Eli Quick, Pepsi Cola Bottling by Time McCune, and Cheravian Club by Glenn Hancock.

The Dixie Youth league, ages 11 to 12, is comprised of just two teams. Harris, McLeod and Ruffner is coached by Anthony Harris, and Carolina Canners by Orlin McCaskill.

Dixie Darling softball, for ages 7 to 8, includes two teams for Treadaway Painting. They are both coached by Terry Hancock.

The Dixie Angels, for girls 9 to 10, make up two different teams for the Cheraw Angels. They are coached by Jeremy Mabre.

The Dixie Ponytails, ages 11 and 12, are coached by Jay Bennett for the Free Worship team.

Two other leagues, the Dixie Belles in softball, and the Dixie Boys, in baseball, will begin their season with recreation ball in a few weeks, after the Long Middle School season ends.

Jimmy Duffy is not only the name of the volunteer award — Duffy himself continues to mark the official beginning of the season by shouting the famous words, “Play ball!”

— Karen Kissiah can be reached at 843-537-5261.