June 14, 2017 Edition

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Summer ball program
coming to a close in WR

Hayden Black swings the bat during a softball game. A rising second-grader at Walnut Ridge Elementary School, Hayden is the daughter of Paige and Shane Cunningham of Walnut Ridge and Patton Black of Jonesboro.
TD Photo ~ Ashley George

Logan Sain pitches during a Walnut Ridge Cal Ripken league baseball game. Logan is the son of Chris and Chrissy Sain of Walnut Ridge.
TD Photo ~ Ashley George

Aubree Hughart
TD Intern

The Walnut Ridge Cal Ripken League is coming to a close for the 2017 season.

Baseball, softball and t-ball programs began for girls and boys ages three to 12 on April 17. Games were scheduled to conclude on June 5, but due to the recent weather, makeup games will continue through the next week.

"Other than the weather issues that set us back, we've had a pretty smooth season," said Jacob Kersey, secretary of the Walnut Ridge Cal Ripken League.

The program has been steadily growing over the past couple years. Last year, the Walnut Ridge program changed its affiliation from Little League to Cal Ripken, enabling the teams to have more competition on the district level.

Additionally, on the local level, teams from Hillcrest, Imboden and Maynard have joined the league. This provides more competition, games and participants within the league.

A new softball field was added to the complex last summer, and Kersey noted how helpful that addition has been to the program. "The softball field is in great shape and allows for more teams and games," said Kersey.

However, Kersey also expressed that there is still work to be done on the newest field. "It still needs some clay mixed in to help solidify the dirt," Kersey said. "With that and some drainage work, the field would be in excellent condition."

Other changes have been made to the program during the season. The Lawrence County School District, who uses the fields for senior high softball and baseball, purchased a new pitcher's mound for the main baseball field.

Additionally, Jason Osburn was hired to mow, chalk and prepare the fields for games, as well as schedule the umpires for the games. "Jason was a huge help to us," said Kersey. "Things were so much better because of his help."

Although Cal Ripken baseball and softball is almost over, a Walnut Ridge senior high boys baseball team coached by Derek Bramlett will be playing 25 games of extended play throughout the month of June.

"This summer team is made of the eighth through 11th grade boys who will be on next year's [Walnut Ridge High School] baseball team," said Kersey. "The summer schedule will give the guys a chance to showcase their skills to Coach Bramlett and get in some practice."

Kersey has enjoyed his eight years of participation with the Little League/Cal Ripken leagues of Walnut Ridge, and he encourages parents to get their children involved in the future in order to keep the top-notch program going in Walnut Ridge.

"People need to remember the program is for the kids. The objective is to have a positive environment where kids can compete and have a good time," said Kersey. He also encourages more young people to get involved and volunteer their time to benefit the program. "Having people we can rely on and count on in the future will help the program be all that it can be," added Kersey.

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