Saturday, April 17, 2004

Little League debuts today



By Nathan Eagle
The Cincinnati Enquirer

KINGS MILL - The newly formed South Lebanon Little League of Warren County will celebrate its inaugural Opening Day today. The festivities begin at 10:30 a.m. with a parade from the Union Township Firehouse and across the plate at Riverside Park for the opening ceremony.

Little League "really focuses on the fundamentals of baseball and tries to make really good, solid players," said Julie Bennett, the league's publicity chairman.

About 290 boys and girls ages 5 to 12 will fill the positions of the 24-team league. Children from Kings, Little Miami, Lebanon and Mason school districts comprise the new league.

League Treasurer Norm Bennett started working with a group last summer to create a Warren County Little League as an alternative to Knothole baseball. Little League Baseball, founded in Williamsport, Pa., in 1939 has grown into a worldwide organization with 3 million participants.

"It's little details," Bennett said of Little League. "The rules dictate a better baseball game and promote better fundamental baseball."

Eleven-year-old Ben Bennett notes that a key difference from Knothole is that runners can't lead off before the pitch, making it more challenging to steal against young catchers. He will play catcher and pitcher for the Newark Group Marlins, after playing Knothole ball in Milford's league last year.

"It's a lot more fun because it's more like real baseball," said Ben, a five-season veteran.

Beyond the rules, Norm Bennett sees Little League strengthening the community. Little League games are localized to one park where all teams meet to play.

"Little League is about your community," Norm Bennett said. "You play against friends, and everyone comes down to the same park."

The seven-week season begins April 24.

Marlins coach Rick Johnson has coached his son Jake, 11, since T-ball at age 5.

"It makes me leave the office and get out with (Jake) and his friends and play a little ball," Johnson said.




LOCAL SOLDIER IS HOSTAGE
Hope eases horror for community
Area's mood turns hopeful
POW status could be a good thing
Enquirer editorial: Prayers for Private Maupin
• Photos: A family, and a community, react
• Video coverage from WCPO Video icon

ENQUIRER COLUMNS
Holocaust events look at prejudice
Job fits her like a tailored suit

TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
County: Pay up, or walk
E-check relief depends on area
Suit threatened over Fernald waste
Freedom Center sets debut date
Focus: uninsured
Trial over, Norwood waits
Former Springboro cop wants charges in '95 slaying dismissed
3-year-old dies of fire injuries
Norwood woman dies after being hit by van

KENTUCKY HEADLINES
Marine killed in Iraq was man of 'faith and dreams'
Stars align behind Clooney
Professor addresses Holocaust
Jail's trailer leaving soon
Tina Conner loses appeal in Patton case

EDUCATION HEADLINES
La Salle transforms gym into Caribbean island
Students dismayed at fund cut
Student charged with assault in beating on bus
Delhi kids promise to turn TV off for one week

NEIGHBORS HEADLINES
Residents seek to slow growth
Developer reassessing
Miami U. project: Appalachian music
College Hill intersection protection extended
Little League debuts today
Water tower must go
Ohio Supreme Court to convene in Batavia

LIVES REMEMBERED
Reds lose a fan, Helen Unger, 99
Sister Antonia Marie Vilt, wartime nurse