MARANA – It wasn’t the home runs, or the baggy uniforms or the lineup cards that signaled the return of Little League to Southern Arizona after a year away – it was the sunflower seeds, the younger siblings playing made-up games on an adjacent empty field and the families fighting for a better seat along the backstop that did it for me. It was everything.
Kids were asking me if I saw their hits even though I was standing right there. A few dads were coaching from beyond the fence. A free Otter Pop was awarded to the lucky kid who was able to rundown a foul ball in a mad dash with other preteens. It was everything and more.
District 5, which roughly covers the northern section of the greater Tucson area, began All-Star play on Monday night at various parks such as McDonald Park out by Sabino High School, Kriegh Park next to Canyon del Oro High School and Arthur Pack just south of Mountain View High School in Marana. Other parks such as Crossroads and Flowing Wells will join in this week and next week and District 12 will begin on Wednesday at Vista del Prado Park near Santa Rita High School with Mission Manor, Jesse Owens and Field of Dreams also hosting later on.
These are all major and modern parks. Gone are the days of pulling up into a neighborhood to play at one of those parks still visible today. Random city parks with a mysterious solitary backstop like Toumey Park or Linden Park that once hosted legendary teams like the 1973 Cactus Little League squad (Freedom Park didn’t open until 1976). I believe the old Flowing Wells Park is now a public library. Life goes on and so does Little League. It’s a constant.
Bobby Sox came to Tucson in 1973 and it slowly morphed into Baja Softball and club softball but Little League softball is still here and girls can play baseball if they wish. The Tucson Kiwanis and Lions civic clubs joined forces in 1950 to bring Little League to Tucson in 1950.
Gone are the days of team names such as the “Valley National Bank” team that the late Rich Alday played on in 1955 but Little League is still standing even with the threat of club baseball and the stoppage due to the pandemic. The World Series will only feature teams from the United States and there will be no regional play for any other age divisions but Little League is off the ropes because, it’s Little League.
LINK: DISTRICT 5 SCHEDULES
LINK: DISTRICT 12 SCHEDULES
D5 BASEBALL LITTLE LEAGUE ARTHUR PACK
MONDAY, JUNE 21
Oro Valley 13, CDO 2 (4)
Oro Valley came up with four home runs to defeat their rivals13-2 Monday night at Arthur Pack.
Fabian Acuña came up with a 2-run shot and a 3-run blast to lead the team. Clifford Graves went 3-3 with a home run, double and 2 RBI; Nick Aronson hit a 3-RBI home run; Izzy Delgado had an RBI; Lucas Anderson picked up a hit; Evan Wheeler walked; Daniel Armenta had an RBI; Braden Arellano had an RBI and Dylan Cardillo walked.
On the mound, Acuña picked up 5 strikeouts and Wheeler had 3.
“My team is hardworking and we practice every day,” Acuña said. “We hit some bombs and we have some good bats. It’s a lot of fun.”
For CDO, Alec Olivas had an RBI triple; Jackson Potter had an RBI; Matthew Tizedes had a hit and Chad McGee scored. Potter picked up 3 strikeouts and TJ Loftis also threw 3 strikeouts.
Western 11, Continental Ranch 1 (5)
Western scored 5 runs in the bottom of the first inning to pace the team to a 13-2 victory over Continental Ranch in the night game at Arthur Pack.
Yandel Rios-Arvayo went 4-4 with 2 doubles and an RBI for Western. Luis Camacho walked and scored; Aaron Lizarraga walked and scored; Marcio Carpio had an RBI double; Dante Cortez walked and scored twice; Alejandro Alday had s sacrifice bunt; Zach Burke Arnquist went 2-3 with 2 RBI; Sagar Milczarek-Desai had a double and 4 RBI; Lucia Jones walked and David Jones walked twice. Camacho had 13 strikeouts.
For Continental Ranch, Jacob Cuaron walked and scored and Will Carrasco had an infield hit. Breyson Ellis had 2 strikeouts and Wyatt Rudd and Jake Hill also saw pitching action.
TUESDAY, JUNE 22
CDO vs. Continental Ranch, 5 p.m.
Marana vs. Canyon View, 7:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23
Oro Valley vs. Western, 5 p.m.
Thornydale vs. TBD, 7:30 p.m.
D12 BASEBALL LITTLE LEAGUE FIELD OF DREAMS
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30
Copper Hills vs. Sunnyside, 5:15 p.m.
Cactus vs. Empire, 5:15 p.m.
San Xavier vs. Southwestern, 7:45 p.m.
Rincon vs. Randolph, 7:45 p.m.
D12 SOFTBALL LITTLE LEAGUE MISSION MANOR
FRIDAY, JUNE 25
Sunnyside vs. Copper Hills, 7:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, JUNE 26
San Xavier vs. TBD, 5:15 p.m.
D5 SOFTBALL LITTLE LEAGUE FLOWING WELLS
MONDAY, JUNE 28
Thornydale vs. Marana, 6:30 p.m.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org