A suc­cess­ful sum­mer

Plenty of ac­tiv­ity on the di­a­monds for Bay Roberts mi­nor pro­gram

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NICHOLAS MERCER

It has been a great sea­son for the Bay Roberts Mi­nor Soft­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

The as­so­ci­a­tion sent more teams to tour­na­ments then in re­cent years.

From all in­di­ca­tions, there is the mak­ings of a thriv­ing girls’ pro­gram grow­ing and of­fi­cials see the build­ing blocks of a suc­cess­ful pro­gram blos­som­ing.

This sea­son some 120 young ball play­ers took to var­i­ous fields in the Bay Roberts area un­der the watch­ful eyes of their coaches.

Ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber Glenn Mercer ad­mit­ted those num­bers are down from last sea­son, but he is no less op­ti­mistic about where soft­ball is headed in the town.

“Over­all, the pro­gram is still go­ing strong,” he said.

This year an em­pha­sis was put on get­ting teams across all lev­els to tour­na­ments. That em­pha­sis is im­por­tant to keep build­ing the pro­gram from the bot­tom up. It al­lows play­ers to use what they have learned in prac­tice.

More im­por­tantly, play­ing in tour­na­ments and games, it keeps the play­ers in­ter­ested and en­gaged.

“The mites group didn’t at­tend any tour­na­ments last year, and this year they went to two,” said Mercer. “Go­ing for­ward, I think that’s most im­por­tant.”

Build­ing from the bot­tom up

One of the prob­lem ar­eas for the as­so­ci­a­tion has been keep­ing play­ers in the game at the older lev­els. Nor­mally, the num­bers have dropped off and the as­so­ci­a­tion has strug­gled be­cause of it.

To rec­tify that, the as­so­ci­a­tion has to fo­cus both on build­ing the game not only at the higher level, but also at the lower level. That is why hav­ing age groups like mite go­ing to tour­na­ments is im­por­tant.

“That group, from year to year, is usu­ally the high­est en­rol­ment,” said Mercer. “So, we need to get that group in­ter­ested, go­ing to tour­na­ments, know­ing what it’s all about and get them go­ing up to the next group.”

As those mite play­ers grow and de­velop, they will move up the ranks and in­fuse the rest of the as­so­ci­a­tion with in­ter­ested ath­letes.

It also helps that the next level up, squirt, fea­tured both a boys and girls team. It’s a sign that things are headed in the right di­vi­sion for the as­so­ci­a­tion.

While in pee­wee and ban­tam, there are nights it was a strug­gle to bring 18 play­ers to the field out of both di­vi­sions. It is a stark con­trast from three years ago, when there were three house league teams in ban­tam.

“This is the chal­lenge, keep­ing those mites in­ter­ested, mov­ing them up to squirt and then try­ing to keep all of the squirts to keep them play­ing ball go­ing for­ward,” said Mercer.

A thriv­ing fe­male pro­gram

A high­light of the Bay Roberts pro­gram is the in­volve­ment of young fe­male ath­letes. Again, the as­so­ci­a­tion has a strong fe­male foun­da­tion in the lower lev­els.

In the squirt di­vi­sion, there were enough fe­male play­ers to have a sep­a­rate team. It was the same in mite.

“There will be a girls’ team in pee­wee next year,” said Mercer.

A big need in the Bay Roberts as­so­ci­a­tion is pitch­ing. Like base­ball, teams will strug­gle if their pitch­ing is weak.

The plan is to try and de­velop an off-sea­son pitch­ing pro­gram in­tended to de­velop the arms in the sys­tem and teach them how to pitch. An­other plan in­volves get­ting fresh faces on the field as coaches and on the ex­ec­u­tive.

“That’s a goal go­ing for­ward,” said Mercer

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Out­fielder Caleb Cur­tis gets the ball into the in­field quickly, while Ju­lia Mercer looks on. Both took part in the Bay Roberts mi­nor soft­ball pro­gram this past sum­mer.

Pho­tos by Nicholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Jonathan Brad­bury de­liv­ers a strike to an op­pos­ing bat­ter dur­ing the last prac­tice of the sea­son for Bay Roberts mi­nor soft­ball.

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