Once again Team BLE made their way down south for a great opportunity to develop and hone up their baseball skills for the upcoming 2019 season. In all there were roughly 100 participants over two weeklong sessions that included a variety of age groups in the Valley of the Sun – Phoenix, Arizona The event happened over spring break with the opportunity to train and then participate in either a USSSA tournament or in BLE’s “Desert Spring Classic”.
Week 1 started on Monday, March 18th in Peoria, Arizona and included two 12 year old and two 13 year old teams. The opportunity to work with Professional coaches and ex-Big Leaguers in preparation for their upcoming USSSA tournament (March 22 – 24) was a blast as the players were keen and the staff was excited about being on the field working together. The experience also offered the opportunity to watch an MLB spring training game as the National League Cen
tral Champion Milwaukee Brewers took on the Texas Rangers, as well as a Major Division I college baseball game. Tough to say what was enjoyed more as the ASU baseball game also included a pretty cool tour of their facility and complex.
Back to the training – Former Big Leaguer Albie Lopez offered invaluable information and training on throwing mechanics along with tips on specialties from all staff:
- Coach Bob, Orv and Assistant coach Beauregard on Catching
- Coach Chad and Ray on Outfielding
- Coach Marty and Eddie on Infielding
- Coach Coxy as our Hitting specialist
With many of the players never having played on a 70’ diamond (Pee Wee Sized field) or dealt with leadoffs and pickoffs, there was work to be done and a great opportunity to introduce the next phase of the game.
Results: As a whole, pretty good I’d say. All teams made it to the playoff rounds and two of the teams won their division. Here are the results.
- 12U division:
- Coach Chad’s team ends up with a 3 – 2 record and wins Silver division
- Coach Ray’s team ends up 2 – 3 and finish strong and win Bronze division
- Coach Coxy takes his 13U team to the playoffs with a 2 -1 record and falls just short in Semi loss
- Coach Eddie’s 13U team battle well with a talented group only to fall short in the Semi final game as well.
WEEK #2 – Spring training 2019
- Team BLE staff made their way to the East Valley (Mesa, Arizona) for Week #2 of Spring training and with that also had a change in the age of the participants. That week would include two 14U groups and a Midget group. The objective was the same in utilizing the great weather and instruction to prepare for the 2019 season and develop and hone up the skills. Each group trained and prepared for either a USSSA tournament or the Desert Spring Classic. The staff was strong again and with a new week came some new instructors that included two time All Star Shea Hillenbrand, Mesa College coach Dave Robb and former Florida Marlins pitcher Joe Sergent. Special Guest speaker Hilary Lehn also joined the team and did a session on College placement and admissions.
Like Week 1, the Event did include an MLB game as the boys had the chance to watch the Arizona D-backs take on the Chicago White Sox at Chase field as well as a Major Division 1 college game as the Nationally ranked ASU Sun Devils took on in-
state rivals, the University of Arizona (or as they refer to them – the Team from Tucson ☺).
- Coach Joe/Eddie and Emmanuel’s 14U Major team won their 1st two games and advanced into a single elimination Semi Final match vs an outstanding Arizona club that already had 24 games under their belt. No excuses, but the boys battled well and threatened with the tying run up to bat but fell on the wrong side of a 5-2 score.
- Coach Albie and Marty took the other 14U team into a Semifinal match up as well on the Sunday and had their chances, but also came up short on the scoreboard in a tight 4-2 loss.
In Summary, both teams did very well taking into account that it was the 1st
time for some competing on a full sized diamond with pitchers throwing from 60’6”
MIDGET EVENT – March 25 – 29th
- In the 4th annual “Desert Spring Classics” event, BLE had two teams enter a 10 team Canadian event. Yes a Canadian event in Arizona, as US State high schools are not allowed to play teams not affiliated with a high school during their season (in a nutshell, no club teams). This event is comprised of teams from throughout Western Canada that included the following clubs;
- Regina Cobras, Calgary Blues 1, Calgary Blues 2, Ridge Meadows Royals, Prairie Sticks (Lethbridge), Kootenay A’s, Cloverdale Spurs, White Rock Tritons and the BLE Gold and BLE Red team.
- The event started with a number of instructional practice sessions that led into exhibition games and then the tournament. We took over the old California Angels complex in Mesa (Gene Autry complex) as well as the well groomed Red Mountain complex. Each team had a full 5 days of work as well as a great opportunity to prepare for the season. In the end of it all it was a good Prairie Sticks club out of Lethbridge avenging an early round robin loss to win the championship over a good Cloverdale Spurs club.
BLE 2019 SPRING TRAINING GALLERY