The crack of the bat on warm summer nights has returned to Walla Walla's Borleske Stadium -- and the crowds have returned with it.
The Walla Walla Sweets drew big crowds in their first games of their first season in the West Coast League.
The league, which features some of the nation's best college baseball players, has the feel of minor league professional baseball. That's no accident. Many of these players will be drafted by pro teams once they've finished their college careers.
The WCL draws top-notch talent because players have an opportunity to use the same wood bats as the pros, which gives scouts a preview to how they will perform at the next level. Most college teams swing metal bats that have a lot more pop than wood.
Still, the guys playing for the Sweets and the other WCL teams clearly know what to do with the lumber. They can put on a show.
And the pitching is also top notch. Walla Walla's Mike Richard, a DeSales graduate, was the starting pitcher opening night.
Having a local boy on the bump just added to the excitement at Borleske on the night the season began. The team is managed by another DeSales graduate, J.C. Biagi. The team's roster, however, has players from across the country.
Walla Walla has a history of support for pro baseball. The Walla Walla Padres were beloved for about a decade ending in 1983. The Islanders and Phillies were playing ball at Borleske previously.
Ozzie Smith, Ton Gwynn, John Kruk and Mitch Williams are among many players who made it to the big leagues after getting their start at Borleske.
Who will be next? Only time will tell.
But it's certain some of the Sweets will be going pro as well as players from the other WCL teams. Some will be major leaguers and a few will become stars.
The Walla Walla Sweets will be creating memories for a new generation of Walla Wallans this summer.
Some of those memories will come from seeing stars in the making but a great many others will come from the experience at Borleske Stadium. The Sweets ownership has made a number of improvements to the ball park, giving it the feel of a professional baseball park.
It's great to have professional-quality baseball back at Borleske.