Up and coming Cal Ripken baseball players from Easton participated in the 8U state tournament, at Newtown’s Glander Field in early July.
Easton, after falling to New Canaan in its first game, defeated Bridgeport 8-6 the next day, then fell 6-4 to Newtown on day three, ending things in the double elimination bracket.
Regardless of the outcome, for all of the teams in this tourney it presented a great opportunity for young baseball enthusiasts to raise their level of play.
The 7- and 8-year-olds are new to pitching and facing live pitching as hitters, aside from digging into the batter’s box to take swings at offerings from coaches.
The players also previously used pitching machines which provided predictability in terms of the speed and location of the offerings to home plate.
Now, while the distance from the pitcher’s mound and plate and between bases remains the same (46 feet to the mound and 60 feet from base to base, known as a 46-60 field) they are a step closer to full rules baseball.
“This is the first step for them playing real baseball. Coaches aren’t on the field, there are umpires, there are rules – balls and strikes,” Easton manager Rob McDermott said. “They’ll take it to the next level and they’ll progress.”
The next step through age 11 is a season or two on 50-70 fields, followed by 60-90 baseball for 13 year olds. They will play on those regulation sized fields for the rest of their careers.
For now, it’s a process of gaining experience and developing skills on the smaller diamonds.
Taking on opposing teams is also an entirely different ballgame for these sluggers.
“This is new for all of them. This is their first year playing against other towns,” McDermott said.
“It’s tough because it brings in an element of getting out of the way of the ball, a fear of getting hit while batting,” McDermott added.
While there were some errors, the Easton players flashed the leather and also swung the bats with a purpose during their three games.
“I’m so proud of them. Win or lose they battled. They never gave up,” McDermott said.
McDermott is assisted by coaches James Coppola, Henry Egan and Shaun Malay.
Players on the team are James Coppola, A.J. DiVito, Henry Egan, Justin Gnidula, Noah Goldman, Justin Hakim, Oliver Hunt, Camden Kaldawy, Quinn Kirik, Ryan Klem, Andrew Malay, Brennan Maryott, Brenden McDermott and Matthew Serlin.