The 2014 Saipan Little League Baseball will open shop this Friday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The Hustlers, who are composed of the core of the Padres that won last season’s Big League, will play in the opening game against last year’s runners-up the Tanapag Braves. The opener will take place after the 5:30pm opening ceremony.
Saipan Little League Baseball, Inc. president Tony Rogolifoi said invitations for the opening ceremony had already been sent out to members of both the government and business sectors. Invited to the kick-off are Gov. Eloy S. Inos, Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofscheider, House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan), and other dignitaries.
Rogolifoi added that the 31 teams participating this season are advised to be at the field by 4pm.
Included in the 31 squads are the Kagman Lions and Fielders, who will battle the Big League title against the Hustlers and the Braves. The Braves missed last year’s championship after bowing to the Padres in the finals, 1-2.
In the Major division, the Falcons are back to defend the championship they won against McDonald’s last season, 5-1. Last year’s runner-up is also returning this season and will be joined by Rockies, Tanapag Braves, Little Legals, IT&E, JPO Enforcers, Laolao, Comets II, Hustlers, Comets I, Red Sox, Ol’Aces, Jets, and As Matuis.
In the Junior League, the Red Sox will be gunning for their third straight title against JPO, Falcons, Jets, Fielders, and Comets. The Red Sox notched back-to-back crowns last season after beating the JPO Enforcers in the 2013 finale, 5-3.
In the Senior League, it will be a six-team fight among defending champion Fielders, Braves, Kagman Lions, JPO Enforcers, Jets, and Red Sox. The Fielders took last year’s Senior League title after an 8-4 triumph against the NSA Braves.
Only the Big League game will be played in the opening day this weekend, while matches in the three other divisions will take place this Saturday and Sunday.
Saipan Little League is kicking off its season a month earlier to give players more time to prepare for the Asian Pacific Regional Tournament once the local competition concludes and anticipate make-up matches.