Two teams emerge from junior sessions in the North West

Fri 7 Jul 2017

In October 2015, the BSUK development team in the North West created a junior baseball/softball programme in Trafford, Manchester, with the vision of creating a team and eventually a mini-league for juniors to compete in locally.  Since then, the programme has really come to fruition.

The aim was to set up a cluster of junior sessions in the Greater Manchester area where young players, mainly in the 8-11 age group, could train each week and play one competitive game per school term.

In January 2016, an additional junior session was set up in Stockport, but was moved to a larger venue in Didsbury in May 2016 to cater for ever-increasing numbers.

These sessions have resulted in two teams – the Urmston Ripper Nippers and the Didsbury Donuts -- and they have played a competitive game against each other in each school term since March 2016. 

Games

The sessions and games have developed alongside the children’s abilities.

At their first-ever meeting, in March 2016, the Urmston Ripper Nippers took on the (then-named) Stockport Fire.  Due to the time of year, the game was held indoors at the Trafford Soccerdome.  Rules were adapted based on the venue, the children’s level of ability and time constraints.  Adapted rules included timed innings, coach- pitch and, after a third strike, batters hitting off a tee.

The Nippers, with few extra months of practice under their belts, took the victory, but both teams were exhilarated by the experience and it helped to solidify their love for the game.

In June 2016 the Nippers hosted the team now known as the Didsbury Donuts at their home ground in Flixton, donning their brand new bright green Ripper Nippers uniform.  With the game now being played outdoors, new adaptations were put into practice. This time, every member of each team batted to complete an inning, and the Nippers were again victorious over the Donuts.

In December 2016, the teams were back indoors, this time at Parrs Wood High School in Didsbury.  As at their previous meeting, everyone batted to complete an inning and adaptations were made to the game to suit the venue (for example, anyone hitting the far wall on the fly got a home run).

This time the Didsbury Donuts really pulled together and only narrowly lost, but this still left the series standing at 3-0 to the Ripper Nippers.

First win

In March 2017, with the same rules as at the previous meeting but at a new indoor venue in Urmston, the Didsbury Donuts really came into their own and took their first victory over the Ripper Nippers.

The most recent meeting, in June 2017, produced the best level of play so far.  For the first time, the teams played to three outs per inning.  A limit of seven runs per inning was imposed, but with unlimited runs to be allowed in the final inning.

The game was very tight, with both teams holding the lead at different times during the game.  However, the Didsbury Donuts, in their brand new kit with a huge donut logo, stole the win from the Urmston Ripper Nippers in the bottom of the final inning.

Both teams enjoyed a treat of chocolate iced donuts to celebrate at the end of the game.

Improvement

Since the first-ever session way back in October 2015, the children’s skills have improved massively, and that has been shown during their five meetings since.  Home runs have been hit, double plays made, and fun had by all.

Linni Mitchell, BSUK’s North West Coach who runs both the Urmston and Didsbury sessions, said, “It’s great to see how far the sessions and kids have come in 20 months.  The progression is down to hard work from coaches such as Hector Martinez and by the kids and parents who take the time to bring the young players along every week.  Over the next 20 months I would love to create another two teams that can join in the fun as we create a league structure for the kids to enjoy.”

Luis Arrevillagas, BSUK’s North West Development Manager, said, “Most of the children coming to our sessions have been introduced to baseball and softball through our work in local primary schools and through the Girls & Boys Active Days held by Stockport Council.  Once the kids have had a taste of it, they can’t wait to play more.  I’m really glad we have been able to set up a path for these kids to follow to play baseball/softball at weekends as well as within their school time.”

Future plans

Sessions will now take a break during the school summer holidays but will return, indoors, during the autumn term.

Plans are in the pipeline to replicate these sessions in Merseyside in the near future, with help from Sefton Softball League. 

Manchester Baseball Club have also been supportive of the Didsbury sessions, with Head Coach John Eaton taking time to help out at sessions during the winter months.  In turn, there are a number of children who attend sessions with Manchester Baseball club throughout the year, doubling their practice time and honing their skills.

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