With June beginning its third week, the boys and girls of summer are in full swing.
© Photo by Terry Roberts/The Compass
Pitcher Colin Parsons of the host Conception Bay North team delivers to the plate during a game against Gander Friday afternoon in Upper Island Cove during action at the provincial bantam AA baseball championship.
Young athletes, glove and ball in hand, have been on the various fields around the Trinity-Conception-Placentia getting ready for the upcoming season.
Baseball CBN is one of the associations off to a fine start for the 2014 season.
The group, which is based out of Harbour Grace, Spaniard’s Bay and Upper Island Cove, has been running its players through mini-spring training sessions the last couple of weeks ahead of the regular season, which traditionally kicks off when school has let out for the summer.
Some 135 athletes have already registered for minor baseball and president Scott Adams anticipates a higher number when registration is finished.
“I full expect our registration numbers to be on par with last season, which would put us at 170 players from T-ball to senior,” he said. “There’s usually a large push into the T-ball and rookie divisions as soon as those divisions hit the field.”
Those divisions were expected to have their first practice of the season last weekend.
The T-ball and rookie divisions are important ones for Baseball CBN. They’re the youngest divisions and represent the future viability of the association.
“We had almost 90 players last year in T-ball, rookie and mosquito which represents a very healthy base to work with,” said Adams.
Keeping them in the game
While it is an impressive number, it becomes paramount for CBN to keep those players on the field and in the game.
That’s the challenge ahead of Adams and the rest of the association.
With that in mind, CBN is offering some changes to its program aimed at motivating players in the middle divisions, and at the same time, trying to grab the eye of the younger players.
“The new batting cage and pitching machine in Upper Island Cove should be a great hit with the players and coaches this season,” said Adams. “On the program side, we’re looking at some home and away house league games against club teams from SJMBA (St. John’s Minor Baseball Association) to bring added excitement to the field … for players who normally wouldn’t compete against other associations.
“In the higher divisions, we’ll have teams competing in junior provincial and senior provincial, both a first for Baseball CBN.”
CBN also has a thriving girls program. There have been five female players compete at the national level, as well as a peewee team which captured a provincial banner in 2013.
“We have a large number of female players in our lower divisions, so the future looks bright for girls baseball,” said Scott.
The senior league
The association’s senior league is, as Adams put it, “a work in progress.”
Featuring a pair of teams the hope is the league will entice graduating midget players to hang around the game rather than head the softball route.
“Ultimately, we’d like to see a four-team league of high caliber baseball players,” said Adams.
This season will mark a first for the association. It will field teams at the junior and senior provincial levels in order to get a “better idea of where our program fits on the provincial scene.”
“A developing senior league is a great complement to the current minor program because it offers a competitive end game for those younger players,” said Adams.
Like any minor association, Baseball CBN would like to see more activity on the volunteer side of things.
The association has a solid core, which includes former players, but it would like to see more people get involved.
“While I can appreciate that everyone has a cause and therefore may be volunteering with another group, I often wonder if the technical aspect of baseball deters parents from stepping forward to lend a hand,” said Adams. “I guess the message that we need to get out there is that over time we can train kids to be baseball players and we can train parents to become coaches.”