Red Land supporters flock to Williamsport
A few years ago, Zachery Sozanski was in the same shoes of the Red Land baseball players who are now vying for a Little League World Series championship.
Zachery, now 16 and a sophomore at Red Land High School, played on the Red Land team that advanced to the district finals but didn't earn a trip to Williamsport.
"I'd give anything to go back and play," he said Wednesday just before boarding a bus bound for Lamade Stadium, where he and others will cheer on the 2015 Red Land Little Leaguers.
The crowd of 80 supporters left Enola about 2 p.m. for the 8 p.m. game to watch Red Land take on the Pearland (Texas) West Little League team.
Zachery was heading to the game with his 15-year-old cousin, Kyle Ziegelmeier, also a sophomore at Red Land.
Though the Texas team is expected to be Red Land's toughest competitor, Zachery was predicting a home team win.
"8 to 4, Red Land," he said.
Supporters: The bus trip was organized by Capital BlueCross, and supporters were given signs that read "Go Red Land" to hold during the game, said company spokesman Joseph Butera.
"They've worked hard all season and they're fearless," he said of the players.
Butera also has a close tie to the team. Jaden Henline, one of the team's pitchers and its short stop, lives just down the street from Butera.
Butera said he has see Jaden and his brother out playing baseball in the neighborhood, tossing a ball or swinging a bat.
"I can see the passion," he said.
Though happy to see Red Land succeed on the diamond, Butera said it's costing him money.
The Red Land team created a Pledge It account to raise money to battle childhood cancer. Donors can select a dollar amount they'll donate for every run the team scores.
When Jaden blasted a walk-off double on Sunday, Butera teased his dad the hit cost a few greenbacks.
"It all goes to a good cause," Butera said.
Ready to win: Newberry Township resident Paula Coe, whose husband is a team board member, said Wednesday's game in Willamsport will be her second and she plans to attend all upcoming games.
But the trick to getting a good seat on the famed spectator hill of the stadium is to get there early, she said.
"If you're not there early, you're up on the second level," she said, adding any seat in the small stadium provides a good view of the action.
Coe said she enjoys the atmosphere of the games and likes that it's just a bunch of kids doing something they enjoy.
"It's just good sportsmanship and having a good time," she said. "It's all about the kids."
— Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.