The Heartwell Park youth baseball 15U All-Star team doesn’t go anywhere without their bat girl Lyndsey Ingram. Right now, they’re trying to reach the World Series together.
Lyndsey, who has Down Syndrome, has been the bat girl for her twin brother Landon’s Heartwell All-Star teams for nearly five years. The first year she was in the dugout, the team reached a regional tournament. She’s been there ever since.
“She became their little good luck charm,” said Lyndsey’s mother, Lynette Ingram. “I like to say she’s the dugout manager. She gets the bats, helps do the lineup and bosses the boys around.”
“It’s awesome and it’s my favorite job,” Lyndsey said. “My favorite part is running out and being cheered on by the crowd.”
After repeating as the Babe Ruth Southern California State Champions earlier this month, the Heartwell 15U All-Stars traveled to Bakersfield this week for the Pacific Southwest Regional. A tournament victory would send Heartwell to the Babe Ruth World Series in North Dakota next month. Felipe Figueroa has been coaching this group since they were 12U All-Stars and by that time Lyndsey was already a hallmark of the squad.
“Every time we do anything with the team she’s always included,” Figueroa said. “Any time we get new jerseys or hats she always gets a pair because she’s part of the team. It’s all equal.”
Landon joked that it’s fun to have his twin sister in the dugout, “until she drinks all of the Gatorade,” but that he and his teammates take their responsibility of watching out for Lyndsey very seriously. During a game earlier this week in Bakersfield, the boys noticed she was getting overheated and sent her to back to the stands where Lynette had some shade and bags of ice waiting.
“The boys love her,” Figueroa said. “They also play around with her like she’s one of the boys on the team. Even the new kids that come along for the All-Star teams just fit right in.”
“I’m trying to raise my son to be accepting of the special needs community, but now I see that in all of these boys,” Lynette said. “We’re raising young men who will be more accepting.”
Lynette brought her children to Heartwell Park when they were in kindergarten because of the Buddy Baseball program that provides a league for all children and young adults in Long Beach and neighboring communities with special needs. Lynette took over as director of the program a few years ago and they’ve already added two more teams.
“I’m also a pediatric therapist so I work with children with special needs and I know so many horror stories of kids who are bullied and excluded,” Lynette said. “To see my daughter accepted by this team as a full member warms my heart.”
Lyndsey said she loves to read and do plays at school with her drama class. She added that her favorite memory as the batgirl came last year at the regional tournament in Utah. Heartwell was eliminated in the semifinals, but the tournament sponsors collected some money during the week and presented it to Lyndsey in a dinosaur bank that said “#1 Batgirl! Lyndsey.”
There was over $200 in the dinosaur.
Uptown Long Beach
In their first full season as part of Cal Ripken Youth Baseball, the Uptown Long Beach 10U All-Stars reached the Pacific Southwest Regional in Honolulu last week. These local boys from North Long Beach weren’t able to bring home another trophy after winning the SoCal State title last month, but the experience was invaluable.
“The coolest thing is that a lot of these kids could never get to Hawaii,” coach Jeff Champlin said. “It’s just the reality of the situation, and to be able to do it through baseball with the support of the community was just huge. Regardless of how we did in the tournament, that experience was the most important thing for me, the kids, and the parents.”
Champlin said the team was also able to travel the big island for some sightseeing and local culture.“We had a day without a game and we didn’t even practice, we just went for a beach BBQ together,” Champlin said. “That was one of the funnest days we had, to just see the kids enjoy Hawaii and revel in the fact that we’re in paradise to play baseball. It was a really cool experience for the team.”
Uptown went 10-3 over the summer while winning multiple tournaments, and they did it with classic Long Beach swagger and raw emotions.
“We’re a pretty scrappy team,” Champlin said. “That’s our style, to play for the joy of the game. We don’t have the nicest uniforms and we’re kind of rough around the edges. I think they just wear their hearts on their sleeves. We play with a lot of passion, we coach with a lot of passion, and I think that takes a lot of teams by surprise.”
The 8U All-Stars from Los Altos also won a SoCal State title and got to host the 2019 Cal Ripken Pacific Southwest Regionals earlier this month against teams from Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Guam and Northern California.
Long Beach Little League
The LBLL 11U All Stars took home the District 38 banner this summer. They earned a bid for the Section 5 tournament this month, hosted by Tustin Western Little League in Santa Ana.
Support our journalism.
Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.