More than 4,000 youth baseball players have descended upon the Flower Mound and Lewisville area over the past month as the cities played host to the American Amateur Youth Baseball Alliance (AAYBA) World Series for the 10th consecutive year.
That includes more than 300 teams from ages 7-14, as well as the addition of an all-star division this year.
“It’s gone really, really well,” said Chuck Berneche, president of Flower Mound Youth Sports Association. “We’ve been able to overcome some weather issues to get back on track, and we’ve received great comments about the parks and the fields and the whole experience.”
The tournament utilizes parks in Flower Mound (Bakersfield and Gerault), Lewisville (Railroad and Lake) and Highland Village (Unity) to host the tournament, which features teams from throughout the state, including Lewisville, Flower Mound, The Colony, Carrollton and Coppell.
This year, however, three teams from Mexico even made the trek for the AAYBA.
“I received a phone call back in January from them and through a translator, we were able to work everything out and get them up here,” said tournament director Tracy Black. “They have teams in the 10, 12 and 14 age groups and it’s been a great experience for them. The kids seem to be having a great time.”
Black added that the squads from Guadalupe, Mexico, have also performed well on the field.
The teams were also able to participate in the opening ceremony festivities, which include a homerun derby, a fungoman competition, a throwing challenge and the Easton Hit Lab — an inflatable tunnel that measures and gives feedback to the batter on his swing.
The opening ceremonies also featured a first pitch to kick off the world series, which was thrown by a representative from snowballexpress.org.
“It’s a charity that benefits children who have lost parents in military service,” Berneche said. “We also have a raffle in which 100 percent of the proceeds are going to the charity. This year, we had one of the recipients throw out the first pitch. It was a very emotional experience.”
The opening ceremony paved the way for the second session, which is on track to be completed despite battling rain and lightning on Wednesday.
Berneche noted none of it would be possible without the help of the hundreds of volunteers (many of which are current or former local high school softball and baseball players), as well as the partnership with the Town of Flower Mound and City of Lewisville.
“The relationship is second to none,” he said. “You never know what is going to happen and who is going to have to step up and the neighboring towns have been unbelievable. From the field crews to the cleanup teams to the people that get everything ready, it’s been great and couldn’t be possible without the partnership we have.”