Family, friends and spectators turned out for the Challenger inaugural baseball game on Sunday.
The baseball game started shortly after 3 p.m. at Menifee’s Wheatfield park with a cool breeze blowing through the field.
“The Challenger division is for children of all ages, who just want to play baseball regardless of their limitations or disabilities,” said Amy Frahn, Menifee Valley Little League Challenger Division organizer.
The Challenger Division, which is made up of players with mental and physical disabilities, will play about three innings every Sunday through the end of May at Wheatfield Park in Menifee.
“This season is free. We just want them to get out here and play baseball,” Frahn said.
The buddy program is made up of 12,13 and 14 year-old kids who are paired with challenged players to help them play their game, according to Frahn.
Twenty-five year-old Lauren Nunez has down’s syndrome and recently underwent a kidney transplant, but she doesn’t let that get in the way of her playing ball.
“I like the game,” said Nunez as she was standing on first base. “I like to play. I like to catch the ball. ”
“I got lots of friends,” Nunez added.
Lauren’s mom, Dawn Vernola, 53, is also the team mom.
“Pure excitement, to be part of this,” said Vernola as she rooted her daughter on. “They may have a small challenge, but the love they give is just endless.
“It’s a joy to see a league put out something that’s going to bring them all together so they have some normalcy in their lives,” said Vernola.
During the game the crowd of about 60 cheered on the players. Today was a day for the players to set aside any disability they have and just play ball.
Lourdes Reyes, 44, buddied up with her 16-year-old son Christian David Reyes. Christian suffers from multiple disabilities, according to Reyes.
“He has a rare muscle disease and is also, epileptic, autistic and has mild autism,” said Reyes.
“It’s his first Challenger baseball game,” said Reyes. “He loves to hit the ball, run and throwing the ball is his favorite.”
At the end of the season in May, all the players and their buddies will get trophies and everyone is a winner, according to Frahn.
“There is no score kept,” said Frahn. “It’s a matter of them just playing baseball.”
Daniel Lane is a local writer/photographer and regular contributor to SWRNN.