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Curtains close on 50th season

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln Little League’s 50th season came to a close Monday night, as hundreds of young players gathered at McBean Park to celebrate the season. Ceremonies began with a moment of silence for longtime Lincoln Little League supporter and Board President Dan Godbee, who passed away late last month. “He spent 15 years in Little League,” said Troy Petersen, the current president. “He was selfless in his acts.” The score booth at the major field at McBean Park has been named in Godbee’s honor, and Petersen said Godbee’s help enabled him to run a successful organization. After the moment of silence, special 50th anniversary commemorative pins were handed out to all the 650 players. Some teams were represented by a few, while others fielded their entire complement. Six-year-old Jason Cosh was the only member to represent the tee-ball Angels, and he was able to get his pin handed to him personally. The rest of the players, sprinting to home plate as their teams were called, got a handshake while their managers picked up the team’s pins. Other honors were awarded for home runs scored, board member hall of fame – of whom Godbee was the first-ever inductee – and medals were handed out for victories in the Tournament of Champions, held last weekend. For some little leaguers, closing ceremonies didn’t represent the end of their baseball season, as Lincoln’s all-star teams were announced. Also receiving special recognition was the sole girl’s softball team belonging to Lincoln Little League. For the first time in the league’s history, the softball team went undefeated, winning all 17 games. “The undefeated thing didn’t set in until near the end of the season,” said Coach Ron Chavez. “We just took it one game at a time.” Chavez said this year’s performance was almost the opposite of last year’s when many of the girls still needed to learn how to throw. The success for the year was the result of hard work and lots of practice, Chavez said. The girls will be back next year, and the competition is expected to be stiff as they move up a division, according to Chavez. The girls weren’t the only ones working on fundamentals this year. Todd Nilsson, one of the coaches of the tee-ball Dodgers, said the difference in his team now versus the beginning of the season was “night and day.” Over the course of 22 games, the kids – from ages 4 to 6 – graduated from hitting off the tee to being pitched to. “It was repetition and practice, practice, practice,” Nilsson said. For Nilsson, this year was fun as he watched the kids grow, have fun and laugh. Six-year-old Daniel Cummings, a player for the Dodgers, said his favorite part of the year was hitting the ball and making friends. Matthew Cochran, 12, played for the major league Rangers, and he said his favorite part of the season was when his team won the Tournament of Champions. “It was good,” Cochran said. “It’s the first time I’ve won that.” Cochran’s season didn’t involve making new friends, but rather playing with the ones he’s had for years. “These kids put on a good show,” said Petersen, referring to the Tournament of Champions. Winners for the minor league were the Mets (pictured on A1). For Petersen, the closing ceremonies marked the end of his three-year career as board president. “It was a good year,” Petersen said. “It was very competitive in the major division, and we’ve got a lot of good kids coming up. It was also nice to see a good amount of older kids playing.” Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.