Nearly 1,500 Sussex Countians will converge on Roxanna’s Pyle Center just after day-break on Saturday, April 22, for Sussex County’s Little League Opening Day.
The hour-long opening ceremony will begin at 8 a.m. and include introductions of league officials, umpires and teams before those in attendance listen to rousing renditions of “God Bless America” and the national anthem by Tom Monroe and Brenda Paris respectively.
For nearly a quarter-century – some of them future state champions, collegiate standouts and possible Hall of Famers – boys and girls of all ages have filled the ranks at the Pyle Center. Lower Sussex Little League currently has nine divisions (six baseball and three softball) registered for the 10-week season.
In baseball, there’s tee-ball for 5- and 6-year-olds, Minor League for those 7 and 8, Major Minor League for those 9 and 10, Major League for the 11- and 12-year-olds, at 13 and 14 it’s Junior League, with Senior League from 14 to 16, and Big League from 16 to 18. The softballers have Minor League from 7 to 9, Major League from 10 to 12, and Senior League when they’re between 13 and 16.
Boy’s Big League baseball begins in June to avoid time conflict due to high school sports. The 16-year-olds are permitted to play Big League, as opposed to Senior League, if they wish.
The regular season ends June 30 for most Little Leaguers – but for the following month and a half, Lower Sussex’s best will play All-Star ball. The fields receive a brief reprieve before welcoming teams from all over the world for the Senior Softball Little League World Series.
State Rep. Gerald Hocker (38th District), Indian River School Board President Charles Birely and County Councilman George Cole will be in attendance at opening day, and be assured that they’ll be there nice and early.
“You’d better get there early, because cars start lining up down the road at about 7:30 a.m., warned Lower Sussex League President Bruce Layton. “If you get there after 8 you can always walk from the other side of the Pyle Center or park on the side on the road,” he noted.