Homeowner Fights Batting Cage At Cole

The batting cage planned for Cole Middle School would sit on the west side of the school.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

It seemed like a nice idea – the EG Little League wanted to donate batting cages to the high school and Cole Middle School that could be used by school teams as well as Little League teams. The School Committee approved the offer last spring and equipment appeared at Cole to install the batting cage last Memorial Day weekend.

Except that placement of the proposed batting cage at Cole was on the west side of the school, the side closest to Sarah’s Trace, the street on which homeowners had sued the town over construction of the school in 2011 and which resulted in a settlement in 2015. When construction of the batting cage began, a Sarah’s Trace homeowner called police, citing a breach of the settlement. Police stopped the construction.

Now, nearly a year later, Little League representatives are hoping to get the construction back on track. The double batting cage at the high school was erected without incident after the failed attempt at Cole.

The challenge at Cole is there aren’t very many place to put the batting cages, Athletics Director Chris Cobain told the School Committee Tuesday night. He said there were only two sites at the school that don’t have anything to do with drainage, sewage, or electrical lines. One is near the tennis courts, close to houses on Wanton Shippee Road. The other is the side that abuts properties on Sarah’s Trace. Cobain said they chose the area closer to Sarah’s Trace because of the generous landscape buffer there. There is no such buffer on the Wanton Shippee side.

Cobain said he spoke with the homeowners who’d called the police.

“I talked to the family and heard, “We will fight, we will fight tooth and nail,” he said.

School Committee members said they needed to know just want was included in the settlement. If it was about equipment, could EGLL use hand tools to install the batting cage, they asked.

Committeeman Matt Plain said there was a difference between whether or not the settlement contained language about construction of something like a batting cage at Cole and the batting cage itself.

EGLL representative Russ Marcantonio agreed.

“If you let the threats of lawsuits dictate how you operate, that’s a bad precedent,” he said.

The School Committee decided to have their lawyer talk to the town about the issue, since it is the town that has the settlement with the homeowners.

School and Little League officials said they hoped the issue could be ironed out before spring baseball begins in earnest.

 

EGLL Challenger Team Takes Field at Fenway

Matt Carasotto (left) and Matt Thayer with Wally. Photo: Tim Thayer

Sadly, the Red Sox season is over, but for a bunch of kids from the East Greenwich Little League Challenger baseball team, 2017 will always be a special year. That’s because it’s the year they got to take some swings at home plate at Fenway Park.

It started when team coach Howard Faunce learned that CVS and the Red Sox offer a program for Challenger teams. The Little League Challenger Division was created so young people with physical and/or developmental disabilities could play baseball with the help of peer buddies. John Sullivan got EGLL to add a Challenger team in East Greenwich in 2014. Faunce sent in a letter outlining the program and saying the team would love to participate. That’s all it took. They contacted Faunce and said, Come to Fenway.

Matt Carasotto, Katie Hayes, Charlie Kolb and James McNamara at Fenway Park Aug. 16.

Here’s where I need to make a confession: My son James is an EGLL Challenger athlete. When we heard about the Fenway opportunity, I figured we would be one of many teams at the park that day. Instead, it turns out we were the only team. First the athletes did a little batting practice inside. I figured, well, that’s it. Nope. Then they took everyone out to the field, athletes, buddies and awed parents alike. The kids sat in the dugout, then everyone checked out the Green Monster and then it was time for on-field batting practice. One by one, the athletes were guided to home plate for a chance to swing at a few pitches. Afterwards, it was time for lunch in the dugout where the Red Sox would be hanging out just a few hours later. Following lunch, there was a tour of Fenway.

Everyone got tickets to the game that night (8/16) – Red Sox versus Cardinals (a sweet game, ending with Mookie Betts’s walk-off home run in the 9th) – and included early admission to catch the Red Sox batting practice.  It was an

Challenger coach Howard Faunce with the Red Sox shirt given to him by the team.

extraordinary day.

“It means everything to see the smiles, the opportunity for these great kids, the buddies and the athletes, to be here for this,” said Faunce. “It’s an amazing fulfilling experience for me. The best part of it for me is just watching the kids play together.”

— Elizabeth F. McNamara

 

Lunch in the Red Sox dugout.
Challenger player Olivia Bisordi at the plate. Photo: Tim Thayer
James McNamara gets a little coaching at home plate. Photo: Tim Thayer
Tim Thayer stands below the sign that welcomes the EGLL Challenger team. Photo: Tim Thayer

Something Special Happening At Cragan This Summer

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The first practice was less than auspicious. A couple kids wore their baseball gloves on the wrong hand. Some refused to run around the field for warm up. The stretching exercises? Fugetaboutit!

“After the first practice, I was kind of like, ‘What did I get myself into here?'” said John Sullivan, the coach and prime mover behind East Greenwich Little League’s new Challenger Division. “But I knew at that point it was going to get better.”

Little League Challenger teams are made up of children with disabilities who otherwise would not be able to participate in Little League. This is the first year EGLL has had a Challenger team, although other Rhode Island communities have had teams for years.

Each athlete is paired with at least one buddy, a typically developing peer who helps out more or less, depending on the level of disability. The team practices Sunday mornings and has games Wednesday nights.

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Thomas, at bat. Credit: Tracy Coppola

“The kids have progressively gotten better. They understand the parts of the game, so they know what’s going on,” said Sullivan. “They’re out there and they’re smiling. I get as much out of it as they do. It’s just so pure.”

For that first practice, the kids kicked the ball, then proceeded to run (or walk) to first base. For the first game, the athletes hit the ball from a tee.

“Now we’re pitching to everybody,” he said. And the kids are hitting.

A confession here: my son James is on the team. When James hits the ball, his face lights up, he turns to the stands to make sure his fans are watching, then he makes his way to first base, encouraged along by his buddies.

One of those buddies is Ella Saint, 10, who’s been volunteering with her mom, Jill.

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James McNamara with Ella Saint. Credit: Tracy Coppola

“I really wanted to help out,” said Ella. “At my first elementary school, I had a good friend who had special needs and when we were on the playground, he loved to dance, so we would dance with him. And that just kind of sparked something.

“At the beginning, I just saw James as one of the athletes. Now, I see him as one of my friends.”

“Really what I wanted was for the parents just be able to come to a Little League field, sit in the stands and watch their kid play,” said Sullivan.

It’s been more than that for many families. This is an email Sullivan got from Staci Kolb, who’s son Charlie, is on the team:

“Something happened after tonight’s game that I am sure happens countless times during Little League Season. But, it was the first time it happened to my son.

After our ‘big win’ at tonight’s Challenger game, I took Charlie to get some ice cream at Hilltop. Charlie still had his uniform on. Once we arrived, he jumped out of the car and noticed a group of other 1st and 2nd graders who were also wearing their EGLL uniforms as there were a lot of boys’ games tonight. Charlie ended up joining the group of EGLL players while he ate his ice cream. One of the boys even asked Charlie if had had a game.

While all the boys were standing around in their uniforms just eating and being silly like little boys are, a car stopped at the intersection in front of Hilltop. The passenger yelled out, ‘Hey Charlie, how’d you do tonight?’ All the boys stopped and looked at Charlie as he yelled back with a giant smile on his face, ‘Great!!’  And the car drove away.

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Charlie Kolb, with a buddy. Credit: Elizabeth McNamara

While you may not think anything unusual or special happened at Hilltop tonight, you would be wrong. Tonight, Charlie was just like all those other EGLL players eating ice cream after his game. He was just like everyone else – and for this, we are so grateful.”

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Joyful base running. Credit: Tracy Coppola

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Coming home, with a little help from some friends. Credit: Tracy Coppola

Untitled attachment 01808 Heading to first base after a hit. Credit: Tracy Coppola

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Alstyn looking ready to hit. Credit: Tracy Coppola

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Karley enjoying an post-game slushie. Credit: Tracy Coppola

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Andy with buddy Sean. Credit: Tracy Coppola

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Alstyn  with buddies Kate and Kate. Credit: Tracy Coppola

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Thomas Martin with his brother after the game. Credit: Tracy Coppola

1 Night, 2 District Championships For EGLL Teams

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In a big night for East Greenwich Little League, two teams won district championships and are heading to States this weekend.

The 9/10 year old baseball team posted a decisive 13-4 win over Warwick West Side to capture the District 3 Championship Monday night at Warwick. They move to the state tournament starting Saturday in Woonsocket.

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EGLL’s Senior baseball team also earned the District 3 championship, with a 4-3 win over Exeter/West Greenwich Monday night. They move on to States this Saturday at McGinn Park in North Kingstown. The Seniors are 15 and 16 year olds who won the district championship as 13 and 14 year olds, according to EGLL’s Anthony Giarrusso.

Congratulations and good luck to both teams!

This story was revised and corrected July 15 at 2:30 p.m.

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EGLL 10 Year Olds In District Final Sunday

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The East Greenwich Little League 9/10-year-old team is in the district championship Sunday at Cragan. The undefeated 10s go into the game undefeated after their win Tuesday against Warwick West Side. The moms all wore pink. Congrats and get ’em!

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EG Little League Teams Tear It Up In Tournament Play

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Safe! CJ Perrone comes in after hitting a two-run homer Wednesday night at Cragan. Credit: Tracy Coppola

East Greenwich Little League tournament teams are on a roll, with the 11-12 year old team beating Warwick at Cragan 6-0, following up another big win against Narragansett Monday night.

“We have a great bunch of kids on our 11/12 EGLL tournament team this year,” said Coach Mike Macaulay. “We beat a decent Warwick Continental team last night at Cragan Field, 6-0. The boys played great defense behind solid pitching from Brad Lombardi and Ryan Macaulay. We hit well as a team too, as our lineup is strong throughout.”
The team is 3-1 in the District 3 double-elimination tournament – the winner of the state tournament then moves into the next phase of the Little League World Series track. EG’s next game is Sunday at Cragan against Wickford at 6:30 p.m.
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The EG 9-10 tournament team after their win Tuesday. Credit: Tracy Coppola

The EG 9-10 tournament team is also going strong, with an amazing 22-12 win over Narragansett Tuesday night. They were tied in the sixth inning, 7-7, tied at the end of seven innings 12-12, then had a huge eighth inning for the win. They next play Warwick West Side on Monday at 6:30 at Warwick.

The older boys are playing at the high school with the Junior team playing Saturday with a must win situation or they are out. The Senior team is 1-0 with a game on Sunday. Both Game are at East Greenwich High School at 5:30 p.m.

EGLL coaches and parents, send updates to egreenwichnews@gmail.com. 

Photos from the 9-10 game Tuesday by Tracy Coppola:

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Photos from the 11-12 game Wednesday from Mike Macaulay:

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EG Little League’s New Challenger Division Welcomes Kids w/Disabilities

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East Greenwich Little League is starting a new division this year, for boys and girls with physical and intellectual disabilities.

EGLL’s John Sullivan said the success of Unified sports at EGHS and Cole Middle School got the organization thinking, why not us? Unified teams combine disabled athletes and typically developing peer “partners.” Cole has a Unified Basketball team and EGHS has both basketball and volleyball teams. The EGHS Unified Volleyball team is a two-time national champion.

Like the Unified approach, the Challenger teams will combine kids with and without disabilities. Each player will have a “buddy,” a non-disabled partner. Recruiting buddies hasn’t been difficult at all – Sullivan said they have more buddies than athletes right now. Now it’s time to boost the numbers of the players with disabilities.

The hope is to recruit enough players for two teams, so there can be more games at Cragan in addition to the games against Challenger Division teams in Coventry and Warwick.

The teams will mix boys and girls, ages 4 to 22 (participants have to have been born on or after May 1, 1992, and on or before April 30, 2010).

“Everyone’s welcome,” said Sullivan. “The game will be modified at every level.”

For instance, he said, if someone’s in a wheelchair and hitting a thrown pitch would be difficult, they will use a tee. Some players may need a soft-toss pitch – that works too. The game will also be shorter, two or three innings, with everyone getting a chance to bat. The teams will also take part in the annual EG Little League Parade in April.

The cost for athletes is $20, to cover the price of the shirt and hat. You can find more information about the league at their website here

Play Ball!

 

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