VIDEO & STORY -- Businesses, volunteers and a $39,000 grant help spark renovations at the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Softball Park, including lights for night games at the senior division field.

Thanks to contributions from businesses and volunteers and a $39,000 grant, the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Softball Park is receiving a major makeover.

During the Opening Day ceremony Saturday, Little Lass leaders told players, families, friends and guests about the new lights on the senior division field and the upgrades in progress at all four fields on Duck Creek Parkway in Smyrna.

Also shining was the gold medal worn by keynote speaker Dionna Harris who led the 1996 U.S. Olympic softball team to victory with a team-high .409 batting average.

Harris encouraged the Little Lass players to follow four life lessons:

1. Everything starts with a dream.

2. Overcome obstacles.

3. The only things you can control are your effort and attitude.

4. Give back, just as others helped you accomplish your goals.

Grant for renovations

Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass has been awarded a $39,000 grant from Major League Baseball’s “Baseball Tomorrow Fund” (BTF). The grant will provide funding for renovations at the softball park.

Little Lass offers Little League Softball and is the primary feeder organization for the local public and private school softball programs.

To address player safety concerns and to better accommodate the growing program, the BTF grant will provide funding for renovations to the playing surfaces, dugouts, fencing and bleachers as well as the purchase of an infield groomer to support on-going maintenance.

Field renovations began in March and are scheduled for completion by October.

“I am thankful and excited for this amazing opportunity to grow and enhance our league,” said Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Vice President Aaron Weisenberger. “This process began in early October of 2017 and has had a long journey to this point. The payoff and reward for the hard work will be seen in the excitement of our young ladies playing on professional level, cosmetically appealing, and safer fields. In addition, visitors to our complex will have a more enjoyable time with upgrades to seating, parking, and various amenities.”

Cathy Bradley, executive director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, said the organization is pleased to lend a helping hand to the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Softball League.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, we thank Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass and the Town of Smyrna for its commitment to providing a quality girls’ softball program and facility that will continue to benefit hundreds of young players for years to come.”

Robert “Biff” Newman, Delaware District 1 Little League Administrator stated, “This grant will not only serve the players of their program but will also improve the softball experience of all players of Delaware District 1. I congratulate the league and thank the Baseball Tomorrow Fund as well as the officers and members of Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass.”

The Little Lass organization is still accepting in-kind and monetary contributions for its programs and facilities. Those interested in donating can call Weisenberger at (302) 632-3375.

New lights

The leaders of the Little Lass program initially planned to use part of the grant to fund a lighting system for the senior division field; however, several businesses, the town, and volunteers teamed up to cover the costs for the entire project.

“A normal installation job of this magnitude was quoted at anywhere between $20,000 and $25,000,” said Weisenberger. “We were very fortunate to have members of our local community volunteer their businesses and services to our cause. This cost savings can then be applied back into our organization for other projects. This will afford our organization more opportunities to host tournaments, extend playing times, and give girls the excitement of playing under the lights.”

The businesses that donated to this project were ShureLine Construction, Kriss Contracting, ShureLine Electrical, and Iron Source Equipment Rental. The project also received assistance from the Town of Smyrna.

Weisenberger also thanked Gary Everett from ShureLine Construction for volunteering to serve as the primary project coordinator.

About Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass

The Smyrna Clayton Little Lass Softball League started in 1971. The league provides a place to practice, learn, and play the sport of fast-pitch softball for girls ages 4-16.

The league consists of four divisions ranging from t-ball to seniors and currently has over 300 girls who participate in the program from Smyrna, Clayton, and surrounding communities.

“Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass League is fortunate to continually have excellent athletes, supportive families, quality competitiveness, supportive and educational training programs, and hardworking volunteers,” said Weisenberger. “Our coaches, managers, players, and volunteers excel in the areas of instruction, development, performance, and league operations.”

For more information, see the website www.scllsoftball.com and the league’s Facebook page.

About the Baseball Tomorrow Fund

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is a joint initiative between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball designed to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball throughout the world by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses.

Since its formation by the MLBPA and MLB in 1999, BTF has awarded more than 1,000 grants totaling over $32 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia. BTF also facilitates league-wide initiatives including the collection and distribution of new and gently used equipment to organizations in need as well as field maintenance education clinics.

For more information, visit baseballtomorrowfund.com.