Opening Day at Friendship ParkPublished 7:00am Saturday, March 29, 2014
The Picayune Youth Athletic Association (PYAA) held their Baseball Season Opening Day ceremony at Friendship Park on Saturday, March 22, at 9 a.m., on Field 4.
Baseball and T-ball for players, ages 4 through 13, began with introductions of teams after the Picayune Memorial High School NJROTC and Show Choir performed.
PYAA and the city of Picayune have been hard at work ensuring the fields and grounds are ready to provide the best experience possible for local athletes and their families.
Eli Ouder, vice president of the PYAA board, and Tim Craft, vice president of the baseball department made introductions of the new teams and the new Director of Parks Heath Stevens.
Stevens was active in the PYAA when he was young and said he knows the difference it can make in a child’s life.
“I love this park. I grew up playing ball in this park,” Stevens said. “I am proud to be working here, knowing that my contributions will help in making a positive impact on the lives of local children.”
Prior to the first pitch being thrown out, City of Picayune Operations Manager Harvey Miller said the city is proud of the park and the community volunteers who make it shine.
“I would like to say that this program is going in the right direction, thanks to Public Works, Grounds and Beautification, the PYAA board and their vice presidents, and the other volunteers who give so freely of their time to build this program for our children.” Miller said.
“Many of the kids who started their athletic success stories, began playing in this very park. We have had state champions begin playing their sport here, with people in leadership like the ones we have today.”
An example of commitment to community youth can be found in the addition of T-Ball playing fields.
“We are so excited to have these dedicated fields for our four-year-old T-Ball players,” Craft said. “The four-year-old fields are scaled down and that gives players a realistic experience so when they progress into baseball, they will have a smoother transition.”
The league season will end in June, prior to All Stars season beginning.
Craft summed the event up and said, “Our opening day was a great success. Eli Ouder and I have been planning since January for that day. Everyone did a great job, and we were thrilled that Cameron Acker was well enough to come pitch the first ball. We have great plans for the future of our league and are looking forward to seeing them through to completion.”