Community improvement grants available; Elks golf tourney; clothing drive benefits V.A. hospital

Forget Barry Bonds. Westchester has its own heroes of the diamond.

The Westchester/Del Rey Junior Little League All-Star softball team has advanced to the Junior Little League Softball World Series in Kirkland, Washington.

The team, composed of 13- and 14-year-old girls from the Westchester/Del Rey area, reached the Junior Little League World Series after representing Southern California at the West Regional tournament in Tucson Arizona earlier this month.

The team had wins over Alaska (12-2), Arizona (5-3), Idaho (13-3) and Oregon (7-0) to earn a place in the Western Regional finals.

In order to capture the Western Regional Championship, Westchester/Del Rey Little League had to win two out of three games against Arizona. The team defeated Arizona in the first game 13-1 and then narrowly lost 8-7 in the second game.

But Westchester/Del Rey came back in the final game to win 9-4, securing the Western Regional title.

The team began the Junior World Series competition in Kirkland Sunday, August 12th. Westchester/Del Rey Little League is representing 11 western states on the “West” team in the ten-team international tournament, which will be played through Saturday, August 18th.

“It’s all so overwhelming,” said Wendy Pearson, whose daughter Hallie Pellecer is on the team. “It’s been four years in a row now that we’ve had all-star teams go to state, and this was our year. The girls have played phenomenally. You never know whether they’re going to do it but Thursday in Tucson was icing on the cake.”

It was also special icing for Pellecer, who turned 15 on Saturday, August 11th.

“When we were in Tucson, she said, ‘Mom, wouldn’t that be cool if I’m flying to the World Series on my birthday?’ And it happened,” said Pearson, who added that the team’s battle cry of “Westchester. You know!” has followed them from Nielsen Field in Westchester all the way to the World Series.

Westchester/Del Rey dropped its first game 3-0 to the East team from Haverstraw, New York.

The girls didn’t give up, though, and trounced the team from Rondevenen, Netherlands, 17-2, to even their record at 1-1.

On Tuesday, the team played the Asia Pacific representative, Bacolod City, Philippines, but lost 6-2.

The West was also scheduled to play the team from Boardman, Ohio Wednesday, August 15th, to complete pool play. Results were not available at press time.

If the team finishes in the top two in its pool, it will advance to the August 17th semi-final game. The winners of the semi-final games will play in the championship on Saturday, August 18th, which will be broadcast live on ESPNU and tape-delayed on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 27th.

“The girls are all having a blast,” said Pearson, who added that the festivities include a banquet, skits and plenty of social opportunities for the girls to meet and mix with teams from all over the world.

Still, the best feeling for Pearson is knowing that her daughter and her teammates are part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“To hear the announcer introduce the girls and say, ‘These are the best teams in the world,’ brings tears to your eyes,” said Pearson, choking back tears just reliving the moment.

Win or lose, the Westchester/ Del Rey team, wearing purple uniforms throughout the tournament, made a spectacular showing and were outstanding ambassadors as they represented our community.

To congratulate them on their incredible season and welcome them back to Westchester, the community will gather at 4 p.m. Sunday, August 21st, at the Jenny Street entrance to Nielsen Field, 6000 Will Rogers St. in Westchester. Everyone in attendance is encouraged to wear purple to support the team and to bring their own lawn chairs.

Congratulations to the entire team: Danielle Cullen, Megan Baquet, Monica Cartwright, Sandy Aguila, Haleigh Pellecer, Rachael Lee, Haile Times, Jessica Times, Brittany Evans, Nia Bolton, Kamyle Glover, Sabrina Stewart,ÝSammy Jo LaPlante, and Gilly Childs. The team is managed by Darryl Stewart, and coaches are Darryl Lee and Brent Times.

To follow the action on-line or for the latest results, go to www

Westchester/Del Rey Little League is accepting tax-deductible donations to offset the expenses associated with the team’s two weeks on the road. Donations can be sent to WDRLL, P.O. Box 881419, Los Angeles 90009.

COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT GRANTS AVAILABLE — The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey is currently accepting applications for community improvement grants.

Potential grants must provide a community benefit on publicly-owned property or serve an organization that benefits the public.

For information or to complete a grant application, contact Steve Donell, chairman of the Neighborhood Council’s Budget and Finance Committee,

ELKS GOLF TOURNEY — The Westchester Elks Lodge will hold its Fourth Annual Golf Tournament Friday, September 7th, at Los Amigos Country Club in Downey.

The $150 entry fee for the four-person scramble sponsored by Playa Vista will include greens fees, cart and awards for the top three teams. Teams will tee off at 10 a.m.

In addition, beginning at 6 p.m. there will be a dinner following the tournament, at the Elks Lodge, 8025 Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey. Dinner is $25 per person.

For information or to register, (310) 821-3005.

ELKS INITIATE CLOTHING DRIVE — The Santa Monica Elks, Westchester Elks, Santa Monica American Legion (Post 123), Venice American Legion (Post 177) and the Santa Monica Emblem Club have initiated their annual clothing drive for the patients at the Westwood Veterans Administration (V.A.) Hospital.

Last year, the drive netted seven pickup truckloads, one vanloadÝand one carload of clothing.

The V.A. Hospital needs men’s and women’s clothes of all sizes.

Serviceable shoes, books and other items may be dropped off at the Westchester Elks Lodge, 8025 Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey.

For more information, Curt Curtiss, (310) 645-8989.