SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – It seemed all of South Plainfield was on hand for Saturday’s opening-day ceremony at Ponytail Park. Past, present and future Ponytailers were on display in South Plainfield style.
The day’s events began with the SPHS girls' varsity softball team playing a regular season game against Perth Amboy on Pony Tail’s A Field. South Plainfield defeated Perth Amboy 11-0. The former girls of Ponytail had 13 hits, nine of which were for extra bases. Katherine Vill threw a shutout, and Caroline Ratti and Shannon Hughes both had dramatic two-run homeruns.
After the game, the Ponytail parade and festivities began. Recreation Director Kevin Hughes was the “Master of Ceremonies.” Mayor Matt Anesh, Councilman Robert Richkus, Recreation Commissioner Calvin Gross, Varsity Head Coach Donald Panzarella and Ponytail President David DeLair all provided words of wisdom to the players, coaches and parents. DeLair spoke about the importance of stressing the positive and referenced comments from the US National Girls' Olympic Softball Team and said “boys typically feel well after playing well, but girls need to feel well to play well.”
DeLair's daughter and varsity softball player, Holly DeLair, announced all of the teams and players by name. This year the Ponytail teams are named after the teams of the Big East Conference.
South Plainfield High School Tiger Ceara McCormick sang a beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Cheryl Hughes to Ponytailer Jen Grasso. Before the ceremonial first pitch Kevin Hughes described how Cheryl Hughes is the perfect role model for the girls of Ponytail Softball. All in attendance agreed.
Cheryl Hughes played ponytail and is a South Plainfield High School graduate. She was a four-year varsity player under coach Panzarella. She played at, and graduated from, Kean University. Cheryl is a member of Kean University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. More importantly, Cheryl is mother to Shannon, Meghan and Caity Hughes. She is a South Plainfield Middle School teacher, and coaches various high school sports. Her husband, and emcee, Kevin Hughes, described how she is a cancer survivor and an inspiration to all.