Little league baseball equipment destroyed by arsonist

BLUE RIDGE, Tex. (KXII) - Monday night, the Blue Ridge Area Sports Association's little league baseball sports equipment shed was lit on fire by an arsonist.

Association president, Ricky Lopez, said they're out about $10,000 in baseball equipment, and the timing couldn't be worse.

Lopez said the teams were planning to get the fields ready to begin practice this weekend.

He said Blue Ridge is a baseball town, and he's just in disbelief that someone would do something like this.

"You start thinking about the kids, and how this is going to delay them and now we're having pretty weather, and everyone's looking forward to it, and now we're having to put in 3-4 times the effort just to get it going." said Lopez.

The Blue Ridge Area Sports Association has been around for 20 years.

The non-profit, volunteer-run organization provides the field for kids ages 4 to 14, to practice baseball.

Lopez said the teams can't practice until they replace not only their equipment but their John Deere Gator, that they use to prep the fields.

Kids who practice and play on the fields told News 12 that they're just in shock.

James Lyle Mehlhoff was arrested for arson and burglary in Collin county, just minutes after the fire.

League officials said they have video of him breaking in and burning the storage unit.

Going forward, the association is hosting a dinner fundraiser Saturday, February 22, where they will be raising money to replace everything they lost.

The brisket dinner, catered by Nick and Nathan Fisher, and Texas Road House, will be held at the Blue Ridge Elementary cafeteria, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Lopez said they hope to raise about $7,000.