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Leagues spring into Opening Day

April 06, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- It's known as the summer game, but baseball season has opened a bit chilly for youngsters in Washington County for the last several years.

So it was with relief that parents and players in South Mountain Little League turned out for opening ceremonies this year.

"Last year the little ones had tears coming down their faces because it was too cold," said Denny Hockensmith, the league's umpire in chief.

There was no such suffering during this year's ceremonies, during which the league's 18 teams stood on the field.

And later in the day, Conococheague Little League took advantage of the weather to open its season at Williamsport's Byron Memorial Park.

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Back in Boonsboro, the morning ceremonies at Murphy Field marked the beginning of the South Mountain Little League's 38th annual season. The players were introduced individually over the loudspeaker, many taking off their caps when their names were called.

While the weather wasn't exactly warm at 9 a.m., it wasn't as cold as it has been in the past.

"When we were out here last year, the kids were just miserable. We ended up canceling the games," said Hockensmith, who has been an umpire with South Mountain for 29 years.

By the time this year's games got started Saturday, players and parents across the county were basking in sun and temperatures close to 60 degrees.

Missie Conroy watched her son Nick Berchock step up to the plate in a Conococheague Little League game at Byron Memorial Park.

"This is the first time in three years we've had good weather on opening day," Conroy said.

Nick, 12, was trying to bring his Post 202 team back from a 5-0 deficit in the third inning against Red Men.

After he hit a single, teammate Trey French drove him home with a triple. Sterling Christy doubled to score Trey.

Just like that, Post 202 was back in it.

"I love this!" Conroy said to no one in particular. Her son Nick is in his fourth and final year with Conococheague Little League, Conroy said.

"He has been really eager to get this season started," Conroy said.

On the other side of the field, parents and fans of Red Men watched their team's lead slip away.

Over the loudspeaker, the announcer said that the 50/50 raffle had netted $49 for the winner.

Kids waiting for their team's turn to play offered fundraiser candy bars to people in the stands, while others wandered over to the concession stand for hot dogs, candy and cheese fries.

Cheryl Keplinger leaned through the concession stand window to watch her son Caden bat.

"It's his first year in Little League," Keplinger said. "He's very excited."

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