(Update: since the publication of this story, the Salamanca Little League opening day and Pitch, Hit and Run competition has been postponed due to field conditions. The story will be updated when a make-up date is announced.)
The Salamanca Little League season opens this Sunday with a showcase for the city’s young baseball players, from 4-year-old tee-ballers to 14-year-old Junior Leaguers.
New president Jacob Kalyan said the Salamanca Little League board members could not recall Salamanca holding an opening ceremony like the one planned for 10 a.m. Sunday. But, he noted, other towns typically hold one every year.
“I think it's important for the kids to kind of get all together on a day and recognize the kids,” Kalyan said, “because once the season starts, everybody's kind of moving around. You have some games at home, some games away and we're never really together on one day throughout the year other than when we have an opening day. It was something, myself and the new board taking over, we said we really need to do an opening day and do a fun day for the kids.”
Coaches will meet at the Crowley Park pavilion at about 9:30 to plan the display, where teams from all levels will be introduced and paraded around the infield. Following the ceremony, Salamanca plays host to a Pitch, Hit and Run competition at about 10:30, for youngsters hoping to qualify for a trip to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
The Pitch, Hit and Run competitions award points for throwing accuracy on a target, distance hit off a tee-ball and timed run from second base to home. Winners at local competitions like Salamanca’s advance to a sectional round, then the sectional winners play for a team championship and a trip to Washington, D.C. for the All-Star Game.
Kalyan said Salamanca added about 50 kids to its Little League program with the addition of a junior league, which includes ages 12-14, in baseball and softball.
“Typically little league will run from tee ball, which are age four, up to age 12, and once they hit age 12, they kind of are more involved in modified and JV and varsity sports,” Kalyan said. “But Little League does have an extension called Junior League, which this year we're going to have a baseball and a softball team, which we haven't had in about 15 years. We're excited to bring 30 new kids back to the program to play junior baseball. Most of them are still going to play modified, but they're going to have basically two seasons playing for the school and then their season will start in June for junior league.”
After tee ball (ages 4-6), Salamanca now has four baseball divisions (coach pitch ages 7-8 and ages 9-10, 11-2 and 12-14) and three divisions for softball (ages 7-9, 10-12 and 12-14).
Salamanca won’t play official games after the opening day ceremony as previously planned, due to poor weather this month and field renovations still underway, Kalyan said.
“Our fields still weren't ready yet with the weather,” he said. “Our town received a county grant to improve our little league fields last year, so they're still going through the field renovations of adding new drainage and new dirt, so they're still kind of getting some of that buttoned up, so unfortunately we won't be able to play games that we had hoped.”