Players round the bases at Riverhead Little League's opening day ceremony in 2018. Photo: Courtney Blasl.

The sun was shining at Stotzky Park this morning as the Riverhead Little League launched its 2018 season.

Players of all ages took to the field and got high-fives from the town board, the McGann-Mercy Monarch’s varsity softball team and the president of the Little League before rounding the bases to line up to take the Little League pledge. 

Councilwoman Catherine Kent led them in reciting: “I trust in God. I love my country and will respect its laws. I will play fair and strive to win — but win or lose, I will always do my best.”

She also had a word of advice for the players and parents from her years of attending Riverhead Little League games as a parent. “Play hard, play fair, and have fun. And to the parents — enjoy this moment while you have it, and always keep a blanket in the car at Stotzky.” 

Little League president Jeremy Savio took the microphone to deliver his opening remarks — shorter than last year’s, he said, after his daughter told him his long speech put her to sleep. 

“A few years ago, this league was bankrupt and on the verge of closing. A group of dedicated volunteers stepped up to the plate to make sure Riverhead Little League remained our league. Since that time, we’ve continued to grow every year. We’ve overcome challenges and obstacles and gone far beyond just baseball. I’m proud to have served alongside such dedicated people,” he said. “I hope this park is always the place our ball players are proud to come home to.” 

He also had a special thank you for Coach Rose Horton and the Mercy Monarch varsity softball team. “I’d like to thank them for all they’ve done for our league. Every winter, Coach Rose and her team open their gym doors for our girls’ softball teams for winter workouts. During the season, they invite our girls down to their home games to throw our the first pitch, and hang out with the team in their dugouts. Thank you for all you’ve done. Riverhead Little League stands behind you guys.” 

Savio presented plaques to two dedicated coaches — Leo Torre and Scott Wicklund — for their “years of dedication and commitment.” Wicklund’s children accepted his plaque on his behalf. 

“What you see today out on this field — the uniforms, the sponsors, the fields — it’s all Scott and Leo. They were a big part of the change that happened here a few years ago. Without them and the board members we have today, we wouldn’t be standing here. So we need to thank the people who always step up, so our kids have a future here in Riverhead Little League,” Savio said. 

Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith delivered the opening pitch. The color guard was presented by the Cub Scouts, and Riverhead Middle School students Sarah Halsey and Alex Carter performed the National Anthem.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Courtney Blasl

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