Kicking off the area’s youth softball season with a bang, the Southwest Softball league hosted its opening ceremony at the Cortez Softball Complex on May 31.
Roughly 130 athletes joined numerous coaches and volunteers attended the ceremony.
Local Girl Scouts presented the country’s colors, numerous prizes were raffled off and former Montezuma-Cortez High School pitcher threw out this season’s ceremonial first pitch.
“Every year, we try do some new things,” said Cornett. “This opening ceremony was pretty fun.”
Nearly 150 players between the ages of six and 16 will participate in this year’s league, which will feature 14 teams. While the majority of this year’s teams hail from Cortez, teams from Dove Creek and Dolores will also participate this season.
For the first time, the Southwest League will be sanctioned by the United States Specialty Sports Association, which, among other things, promotes softball across the country.
“The (USSSA) is the more competitive organization,” explained Cornett. “We’re trying to follow along with (Farmington) and host some tournaments down here.”
In addition to fostering a competitive environment for area players, the Southwest League will also strive to impart life lessons to young athletes.
“Me and a lot of the coaches and volunteers that do this, we’re here to not only help the girls become better players, but better people.”
Clearly excited for the upcoming season, 12-year old Brooklyn Allen discussed what she enjoys about playing in the Southwest League.
“I like outfielding,” said Allen. “I want to improve on my batting this year.”
“I like throwing balls around and batting,” added Allen’s younger sister, 8-year old Brianna Allen.”
Also expressing excitement in advance of the upcoming season was Montezuma-Cortez High School player Ahnna Higgins.
Discussing what makes the season valuable to high school players, Higgins stated that staying in shape during the summer is vital to success at the high school level.
A valuable event on so many levels, the opening ceremony was enjoyed by all much to the chagrin of league organizers, coaches and parents in attendance.
“My favorite part (of softball) is the fun that we get to have,” said 10-year-old Jocelynn Ledford.
Southwest League games will take place at the Cortez Softball Complex throughout the summer.
The first annual Southwest Girls Softball Bash will also take place in Cortez June 21-22 at the Softball Complex and the Parque de Vida fields.