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Dixie Youth kicks off 2008 campaign

DEMOPOLIS &8212; The Dixie Youth Softball League opened play Monday night after conducting its opening ceremonies. The league&8217;s 15 clubs gathered to have team photos taken, acknowledge the sponsors and coaches and watch the tossing out of the first pitch.

The more than 180 girls who comprise the league shivered in the unusually chilly April wind as they worked to keep still long enough for team pictures to be taken.

Once that task was complete, league officials were able to press forward with the ceremonies. Following all introductions and recognitions, Auburn University senior Kelly Keasler threw out the season&8217;s first pitch.

Keasler participated in Dixie Youth from tee ball all the way through the Belles division, making the all-star team at each level. She then played for Demopolis Middle School before going on to letter for the Demopolis High School team for four years, winning a state championship in 2003. She recorded 651 strikeouts and boasted a 0.74 earned run average during her tenure as a DHS Tiger.

Her pitch Monday evening marked the beginning of a regular season that will last for six weeks, wrapping up May 26. The league will then select its all-stars, who will begin practicing in late June before competing in the All-Star Tournament in Livingston.

The league will be afforded the luxury of choosing all-stars from one of its largest player pools to date as the 180 girls signed up for play is a significant increase over previous years&8217; participation. Petrey and other league officials are confident that if the Dixie Youth Softball League accomplishes its goal, participation in future years will not suffer a decline.

The league&8217;s 13-15-year-old age groups will begin forming during the first week of May.