New season ready to begin at WRALL

awoolen@macon.comMarch 5, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Volunteers with tractors, rakes and muscles spent most of a sunny Saturday moving bleachers, dirt and bases to get ready for opening day of the 2014 Warner Robins American Little League season.

Opening ceremonies will be Friday at 6 p.m. Games will start Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Richard Haddad, vice commander of Air Force Reserve Command, will be the guest speaker for the ceremonies and will throw out the first pitch.

A bagpiper, Mary Janice Thrift, will lead the children in a parade from Field 1 to Field 4, where the ceremony will take place.

An estimated 880 children have signed up this year for baseball and softball, said Joey Stella, who is in his second term as WRALL president.

During the winter months, the awning around the concession stand was replaced and expanded, and a new shed was purchased.

Stella’s goal before he steps down is to get covers on all of the bleachers and to install lights on Field 5, but he said it will take a lot of financial backing to do both projects.

Usually the weekend before the games begin, there are minor things that have to be done, but last weekend was a scramble for volunteers to get the foul lines painted, sponsor signs up and clean out the concession stand.

“The weather has been killing us,” Stella said.

Not only do the fields need tending, but the hundreds of children need practice.

Cliff Ruffin, who is starting his first term on the board of directors for WRALL, is also a first year manager of a C-ball, team, which is coach pitch.

Just a few miles from the WRALL fields, his team scrimmaged near Ga. 247 in Bonaire against manager David Hale’s team.

“I love these kids and love the atmosphere,” Ruffin said.

He has been coaching and volunteering for about five years, since his oldest son Gavin, now 11 years old, started playing baseball.

Ruffin’s team has been practicing since two days after the draft, but the first day of March was the first day of live action.

“I just teach them the fundamentals,” he said. “It’s one step above T-ball.”

The majority of his team are first-year coach-pitch players, so Ruffin has done drills with the basics such as catching and hitting.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service