DYWS off to flying start

·2 min read

Aug. 6—LUMBERTON — After all 396 players and 99 coaches from the 33 teams represented at the Dixie Youth World Series were introduced during the opening ceremony Friday, six more individuals made their grand entry — from above.

The U.S. Army Golden Knights were the ceremony's highlight, parachuting in to deliver three baseballs for the ceremonial first pitches — one each for the AAA, Majors and "O"Zone levels whose World Series tournaments will begin Saturday in Lumberton.

"We wanted to make it special, wanted to give the kids an experience they may not have seen before," said Tim Locklear, president of the Lumberton Youth Baseball Association. "I've been to a number of opening ceremonies; I haven't seen parachuters come in."

"It's fun especially because there's a few Texas teams out there, so definitely showing their support as soon as they realized (I'm from Dallas)," said Staff Sergeant Griffin Mueller, one of the jumpers. "It was a good jump and we definitely had a great time."

The ceremony began with the parade and introduction of each team, and after the jumps included remarks from dignitaries including Lumberton Mayor Bruce Davis and a keynote address from former UNC Pembroke athletic director Dan Kenney, who told the players they were special and uniquely made by God, discussing how to be a great teammate and a true "all-star."

The first pitches were then thrown by Lumberton Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, former U.S. Congressman and Lumberton native Mike McIntyre and Dixie Youth Baseball state president Carey Wrenn. Each ball was signed by the six Golden Knights who jumped into the stadium.

"It brings back a lot of memories, having been involved in LYBA from back at the very beginning, and having coached youth sports in Lumberton and grown up playing youth sports in Lumberton as well," McIntyre said. "And now to see the leadership of LYBA do such a spectacular job bringing these tournaments to our city, it just shows it's a complete community and team effort through the years."

Tournament games begin Saturday at the Dr. Raymond B. Pennington Athletic Complex in Lumberton. Saturday's first games begin at 1 p.m. and the last begin at 7:45 p.m.; the tournament runs through Thursday.

"(Fans are) going to see some high-class, high-level baseball," Locklear said. "These kids have earned their way to get here, they've beat a number of teams; they're the best in their state. So we should see some of that tomorrow — we'll see some very good baseball."

Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at cstiles@robesonian.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.