XENIA — Complete with fire trucks and emergency personnel, Opening Day for the Xenia Select Bucs Baseball teams got underway under sunny skies on Saturday afternoon, April 8 at West Side Park.
Xenia Select Bucs Baseball has an 11U and 9U baseball team, and the teams compete in the Midwest Ohio Baseball League. With members of the Xenia Fire Department on hand to line up with the kids for the National Anthem, the Xenia Select Bucs 11U team took on the Twin Creek Mudcats from the Farmersville/Jackson Township area, in the day’s opening game.
Xenia High School Athletic Director Nathan Kopp was on hand to welcome the players, parents and Xenia’s first responders to Opening Day. Kopp played at Wright State and then was drafted to play professional baseball in the New York Yankees farm system. He was a teammate with current Seattle Mariners shortstop-second baseman Robinson Cano and current Kansas City Royals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang while playing for the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Pennsylvania League.
“I played parts of two years (in the Yankees farm system), so baseball is in my blood,” Kopp said. “So when they asked me to come out here, I was honored to be a part of it. You can’t ask for a better day in April than this.”
Organization co-founder Roger Cantrell threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He and his wife Rebecca first started the Select Bucs Baseball program in 2011.
“A lot of the local leagues were starting to get smaller and smaller. And everybody is doing this travel ball now, so we wanted to start something for the local Xenia kids to do in order to play a little more competition,” Roger Cantrell said. “We’ve had some lean years, but we’ve had a lot of volunteers and parents and local businesses that have helped us keep this going.”
Rebecca Cantrell estimates that area businesses and the Cincinnati Reds organization (which donated the infield dirt for the West Side Park ball diamonds) have contributed more than $40,000 to help keep the Xenia organization going.
“We really couldn’t have this without the help of area businesses, parents and volunteers,” she said. “It’s a way for kids and their families to get outside and have a really fun afternoon at the ball diamond.”
Other Greene County area organizations involved with the Midwest Ohio Baseball League include: the Beavercreek Sox; and Xenia Scouts.
The MBOL season runs through early June. Each team’s season schedules can be found on the league’s website: www.midwestohiobaseball.com.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.