Field of Dreams exists in El Centro for young ladies

EL CENTRO- The Sound of thunder cracking over El Centro was not limited to a weather phenomenon on Saturday in El Centro. The Imperial Valley Girls Softball League (IVGSL) hosted young athletes from around the Imperial Valley for Opening Ceremonies for the 2017 fall season that included a Base Running Challenge and Home Run Derby.

Anika Mitosinka takes a runners stance in the Base Running Challenge Event for IVGSL.
Aj Miramontes Swings for the fences during IVGSL’s Home Run Derby.
Giana Galindo takes aim on the parking lot while hitting during the opening of IVGSL Home Run Derby.

EL CENTRO- The sound of thunder crackling over El Centro was not limited to a weather phenomenon Saturday. The Imperial Valley Girls’ Softball League (IVGSL) hosted young athletes around the Imperial Valley for the 2017 fall season opening ceremonies and a re-dedication that included a Base Running Challenge and Home Run Derby.

The Debbie Pitman Softball Field restoration dedication, like other local youth athletic venues, depended on volunteers, and for them, the work was a labor of love. When speaking of the fields that hosted generations of young athletes, the back bone was often the men and women who appeared before the action and remained long after the last player was driven home. They toiled the infield and mended fences come wind, rain, and blazing summer conditions. However much their dedication, the condition of the field was unworkable, thus the complete overhaul.

According to the workers, a name synonymous with the labor of love was Charlie Bennett. Bennett’s dedication to the care of the grounds lasted long after his own daughters left the league. During renovations a hand made sign was discovered. It read, “Charlie Bennett Field.” His memory will stay alive through the renewed longevity of the field and in the returning young athletes, one participant said.

The action Saturday was full of young Imperial Valley ladies coming to El Centro dedicated  to another softball season with the IVGSL. Girls from surrounding cities put aside city and school rivalries to enjoy and share their love of softball together.

Once the action started for the Home Run Derby, Giana Galindo, an eleven-year-old from Calexico, took to smashing softballs over the fences, prompting parents to move their vehicles from the impending impact area.

“I love the excitement of winning, that special feeling of hitting a home run,” said Galindo.

Across the field, in the next competition field, ten-year-old Anika Mitosinka of Brawley was competing in the Base Running Challenge, showing off her speed and intensity. Mitosinka said she practices about four times a week and really likes softball. In the end, Mitosinka ran her way to a third place in Base Running.

In the field adjacent, was another softball fanatic, Aj Miramontes. Aj, a six grader, said she practices every day except Fridays and Sundays, she conditions on Saturdays.

“I love (softball) everyday, nonstop,” said Yanelle Romero Felix, a nine-year-old from El Centro, but acknowledges she gets really tired. Her drive is to play until she is good, with her favorite part of the sport is batting.

Felix has a special challenge her mother believed playing softball can help. Her mother explained, “It brings out a lot of her potential because of her Autism, it makes her more sociable and gives her more (confidence) around other children.”

Many participants agreed softball, like many sports, have bridged unique opportunities for the youth willing to put in the work. Several commented the effort won’t be professional contracts, but life-long memories, friendships, and fundamental values.

Thirteen-year-old Kelly Tomlinson, a Southwest High School student, took first place in the Home Run Derby for the older age group. Sandra Arguallo of Calexico burnt the soles off her shoes to win first place in the Base Running Challenge.

League president, James Clark, emphasized none could have been possible without the countless efforts and contributions of the following individuals and organizations:

• Past County supervisor Jack Terrazas with his daughter Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter and extended family
• Imperial County Air Pollution Control District
o Director Matt Dessert
o Former Director Reyes Romero
o Monica Soucier
• City of El Centro Parks and Recreation
o Marcela Piedra
o Mayor Alex Cardenas
• Granite Construction
o Carolyn Maness
o Dale McFaddin
o Rory Mercer
• Havens and Sons Trucking
o Roger Havens
o Jeremy Havens
• Elms Equipment
o Ryan Reblar
• Rain For Rent
o Greg Moran
• Imperial Valley Aggregates
o Matt Richert
• Jimmy Abatti
o Dale McFaddin
o Rory Mercer
o Carolyn Maness
o German Serrano
o Katie and Darrin Thomason
o Miguel Meza
o Pilar and Alma Sauceda
o Peter Rodriguez
o Rob Landreth
o Trenton Sotelo
• Charlie Bennett