Posted on 13 October 2014.
More than 250 players have participated in a variety of Ruffnecks Fall Baseball programs since the first weekend after Labor Day. And never have there been more opportunities to play, participate, and develop. Fall Baseball, by definition, is a relaxed atmosphere in which players get to play baseball once or twice a week. Even though the game is not designed for that kind of intermittent play, fall ball presents an environment where players can experiment, manage their own work load, and play baseball simply to keep sharp. The brand new NEBC (New England Baseball Complex) creates a spectacular venue to take advantage of Fall Baseball in New England. The following is how the Fall Program has shaken out for Ruffnecks.
First of all, Fall Baseball is an opportunity for players from many different backgrounds to experience the Ruffnecks program up close. It provides a chance for the program to open its doors. With the advent of the NEBC, players in Ruffnecks Fall Baseball have had opportunities to play in purely developmental, drill-oriented sessions, as well as in Fall League games and intrasquad games. Each is a slightly different experience. At the College Prep level there is more emphasis on games. At the High School Wood Bat level, there is a balance between league play and intrasquad play, where coaches can focus more closely on individual development. And of course, the 13U Fall Program has become well known for its emphasis on development and teaching, with up to 15-18 coaches working with 60 new 13 year olds on the “big diamond.”
13U Fall Program
The program is filled to capacity for the fourth consecutive year, serving 60 players who seek to improve their skills and advance to baseball as it was designed! For six to seven weeks players participate in a variety of drills that introduce new elements and concepts that are either missing from, or are overlooked, from baseball on the smaller diamonds. Drills lead to concepts; concepts lead to greater understanding; greater understanding leads to the ability to play game situations on the full sized field. Teaching is paramount as players gradually adapt to game situations. While 13U Fall Baseball also serves the Ruffnecks program as part of the selection process for next year’s team, it is a development program first and foremost.
High School Wood Bat Program
The High School Wood Bat program serves over 130 players ages 14U to 16U. Over 100 are new to the Ruffnecks. The program is designed to provide maximum flexibility and attendance options. Rosters are constructed weekly based on the availability of individuals, positional needs, and pitching interest. With rosters constantly shuffled, players get to play with many different players and against each other. There is a blend of competition against outside opponents (in the NEBC Fall League) and competition against each other in games with two Ruffnecks rosters playing with umpires.
College Prep Program
The College Prep program has taken on a new dimension in Fall 2014. Not only is the NEBC a valuable resource that ensures playability, it has become an attractive spot for college coaches to visit while evaluating future college talent. The College Prep Fall League provides consistent weekly competition and opportunities for high school varsity level players to get their work in. With the creation of the October Classic Fall Tournament, the spotlight has expanded to the activities at NEBC. Participants in the Ruffnecks Fall College Prep program are the beneficiaries. With 60 new players and 20-30 returning Ruffnecks filtering into weekly rosters, the College Prep Program provides the same flexibility as the High School Wood Bat Program. Players can manage their schedule and even advance heir recruiting efforts.
Future is Bright
The future is exciting, indeed. The Ruffnecks will continue to roll out sound developmental programs and clinics for our own players and others in the greater baseball community. Plans are under way for a Catcher Clinic, a Hitting Clinic, and other skill and position-oriented development opportunities. The NEBC provides a spectacular “home” for the program, but it also provides a great place for the program to welcome others. Fall 2014 has been a good start.