Pittsburgh Pirates Care-a-Van stops by Cheat Lake Elementary for some fun

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Care-a-Van stopped by Cheat Lake Elementary school on Wednesday and brought a couple of players, coaches, and management to have some fun with students.

Yacksel Rios leads students through batting practice

The Care-a-Van is part of the Pirates Charities effort to partner with local nonprofits by donating their time to assist with projects, services and or simply visiting a school to have fun and donate a few items like they did at Cheat Lake. Students did batting, pitching and out fielding practice from the team and had a blast doing so.

Cheat Lake Elementary students pitching

Derek Shelton the Pirates field manager said they have been doing the Care-a-Van for years and that they usually do it in January. He added that every time the team can make it out into the community it’s a special time.

“I think number one the significance is anytime we can get out in the community in West Virginia, with us having a team here, we get to interact with kids,” Shelton said. “And it’s kind of cool because we’re playing a kids game and you get to see big kids play with little kids so it’s kind of cool.”

They were joined by their minor league affiliate the West Virginia Black Bears, that Shelton alluded to, which brought a couple of their mascots and some front office staff. The mascots also had the children elated as they high-fived and dance around the gym.

Students have fun with Black Bears mascots

The Care-a-Van is made up of four separate groups that go out in the public between Jan. 22-24 and group four, which stopped in Morgantown also went down to Clarksburg later in the day. Group four included: third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, pitcher Cody Ponce, pitcher Yacksel Rios and pitching coach Oscar Marin.

Out fielding practice with Cody Ponce

“I think everybody is excited, it’s an exciting time of year, you want the cold weather to go away and you want baseball to start,” Shelton said. “It’s going to come sooner than later, we have a couple of weeks until we go to spring training and then we start the season in March. The interaction has always been positive, it’s exciting to be out.”

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