SOUTH HOLLAND, IL - Temperatures over 90 degrees and a heat index pushing close to 100 didn't stop 8 teams, their coaches and fans from attending the Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Central Region Junior Softball tournament held at Veterans Memorial Park on Friday evening.
The teams were announced into the playing field where they paraded around the field to then take their place in the outfield grass. The umpires were then announced it and took a place just outside the circle.
The color guard was performed by the world-famous Shannon Rovers Pipe and Drum band, from Chicago, IL who serenaded the attendees with traditional pipe and drum music. A stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was immediately followed by an incredible fireworks display put on by the Village of South Holland and Melrose Pyrotechnics.
Following the incredible fireworks, the audience was treated to words from the mayor of South Holland, Don DeGraff, and the head of the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce, Jim Garrett. Sandy Ducat, IL District 6 Administrator and Tournament Director, gave a ball to DeGraff to throw out a first pitch.
In addition to DeGraff, Megan Blank, member of the Chicago Bandits, was on hand to also throw out a first pitch. Illinois (Melrose Park) team member Melissa Gonzales, was on-hand to catch the first pitches.
After the pitches, the teams competed in a short cheer contest, with Nebraska taking home the 2016 Tournament Cheer Contest award.
A few announcements and the teams were lead out of the field and to the Tournament banquet by the Shannon Rovers.
During the Tournament Banquet, put on by the Village of South Holland and the South Holland Park District, the nationally-known Jesse White Tumblers performed incredible feats of dexterity and aerial skills. Jesse White, the current Secretary of State of Illinois, was on-hand himself to monitor the performance and address the crowd. Mr. White stressed the values of youth programs and shared the important 50+ year history of the Tumblers and the impact the Tumblers have made on youth. He also encouraged all of the athletes to continue in their quest for athletic excellence and shared a brief history of his professional baseball career with the Chicago Cubs organization.
The evening was closed out by a rip-roaring performance of No Currency, a surf-rock band from the North side of Chicago. Fans were treated to established covers and original material by the band made up of 16-17 year old gentlemen.
Games are set for 9am on Saturday! Follow your favorite team on the Game Changer scoreboard which can be located on the home page of this site. Click your team's game, click your team's name and join the fun! Live updates will be occurring during games and game scores will be posted right here as well.
Thank you to EVERYONE who came out for Opening Day and we look forward to GREAT games tomorrow!