Turning double plays
CBN players fill middle infield for provincial teams
Marysvale’s Brady Ryan and Upper Island Cove’s Noah Donovan are different players from different sports.
One plays fastpitch softball, while the other prefers to get his swings in baseball. As you can probably guess, they’re used to playing with different sized balls, bats, gloves and, perhaps most importantly, fields.
“You have a lot more time in baseball,” said Ryan, who plays with the provincial under-18 softball team. “There is probably 30 more feet in baseball than in softball.”
Despite the differences in their sport, there are some commonalities. Each made a provincial team in their respective sports — Donovan is with the under-17 baseball team — and each manned the middle infield at shortstop and second in the recent Baseball NL Midget Atlantic Qualifying tournament held in Gander.
With Ryan at shortstop and Donovan at second, it may have represented one of the few instances a double play combo for one team was made up of players from a provincial team in different sports.
On the field, their respective games complement each other. Ryan is the powerful shortstop with good range and a good arm, while Donovan, who is smaller in stature, is adept at flashing the leather and using his quick feet around the bag to help turn the double play.
The double play is one of the more intricate plays in sports and it is where these two players cross from one sport to the other.
Whether it is softball or baseball, the middle infielders also cross each at second base. That’s where these two sports are most similar.
“It’s pretty cool playing with another provincial player,” said Donovan. “It is a different point of view. It is a little different turning double plays.”
Turning a double play involves complete synchronization for the shortstop and the second baseman. Either position player will field the ball and flip it towards the bag. The receiving player plucks the ball out of the air before hurling the ball towards first base using a combination of slick footwork and an uncanny sense of timing.
It takes an incredible amount of chemistry and co-ordination between the shortstop and the second baseman. Whether it is softball or baseball, each position has to know the others whereabouts on the field, where they like to receive the ball and the best way to get the ball to the bag.
In softball, there is less time to complete the turn. As Ryan puts it, softball is more “bang-bang.”
The combination of Donovan and Ryan up the middle for the CBN Bulldogs could be considered a rare instance.
Not often do you see a softball shortstop attempting to turn two up the middle with a baseball second baseman. Rarely do they cross over, except for maybe a handful of games in central Newfoundland.
“It was a bit different playing with Noah (initially),” said Ryan. “He plays the position a bit differently. What play you’re going do is a little different than in softball.
“There is a different read.”
With both Ryan and Donovan bound for high-level tournaments later this summer, they’ll be plenty busy defining their games ahead of shipping out.
The Team NL softball squad is bound for New Brunswick for the Canadian Midget Nationals, while the provincial baseball team will travel to Saskatoon, Sask., for the Canada Cup.
Both players look forward to testing themselves against top competition and beating the teams they’re supposed too.
Meanwhile back on the field in Gander, the pair didn’t get too caught up in what sport the other played at a national level.
“I never thought about it,” said Donovan. That’s fitting because the double play works better when you don’t think about it.