Reflections on Fall Ball 2023

41 players grades 7-12 signed up for Fall Ball this year with 38 actually participating. Players were divided up into three groups based on grade level. Grades 9-12 practiced primarily on Tuesdays and Thursdays while grades 7-8 went on Mondays and Wednesdays. Games/scrimmages were played mostly on weekends. Fundamentals and basic skills were emphasized rather than focusing on the number of actual games. Attendance at practices was excellent, and as a result most players experienced a noticeable improvement over the course of the Fall.

Three teams were formed with some players participating on more than one team. The older group or “Varsity” level was made up of students in grade 9-12. The “9th Grade/JV” level team included students in grades 7,8 and 9. The youngest group was mostly grades 7 and 8, especially those players just coming out of Little League, and playing on the “big field” for the first time. (“Rookies”) Complete rosters of all the teams are listed below.

It was difficult to schedule many games because few area schools have a Fall Ball program, but the “Varsity level” team managed to play 7 games, winning 6 and losing just one. The lone loss was to the “Pittsburgh Premier” travel team in the “Fall Brawl Tournament” at “No Off Season Sports” in Pittsburgh.

The 9th Grade/JV Team did very well, winning 7 games and losing only once in 8 contests. This strong showing by our ninth graders could bode well for our JV team next Spring. And the third team, made up largely of “Rookies”, showed significant improvement as they gradually made the adjustment to the 90 foot bases and longer throwing distances. Their participation this Fall should help them a lot when they move up to the next level. Although we were only able to schedule two actual games for this group, they were very competitive and were given a taste of what real baseball is all about. I am really looking forward to having them join us next summer for VFW Teener League Baseball.

Of course the main event of the Fall is always the “Fall Ball World Series”. This year The “Dawgs”, piloted by Hunter Rumsky, took down Elijah Quick’s “Big Red Machine” in five games, all of which were “hotly contested”. Good pitching and defense highlighted the series, which pleased the coaching staff. The fact that our own players divided up into two teams provided better competition than other area teams was very encouraging.

The unanimous feeling among members of our coaching staff was that this Fall was the most productive we have experienced in many years. Practices were fun and spirited thanks to great leadership from our seniors and excellent work by our coaches. Improvement in all phases of the game was noticeable, but the most obvious was defensively. Our “I-O”s (Infield-Outfields) were sharp, and players took great pride in them. One of our main goals for next season is to cut down on errors, of course, but also to improve our situational defense, and I feel we took some positive steps toward that this Fall. As always, pitching will be a priority this Winter, but opportunities for hitting improvement will be there also with the opening of the new batting cages. Beginning November 15th we will be renting the new facility three evenings a week from 5:00-7:00 PM. Our nights are Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday. We will start out with grades 9-12 and later on insert some times for 7th and 8th graders. Those evenings will be baseball only. We will not be sharing those times with softball, although they will have access at different times of course. I am excited about all the opportunities available to us this winter. Plans are to eventually open the batting cages at the school on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:15- 5:00. We are also planning to offer a weight program on those days as well. More details on all this as we get closer to Nov. 15th.

Many thanks to all players and coaches who participated, making it a very enjoyable and worthwhile Fall season. Complete rosters are listed below.

“Varsity Level:” Cole Bloom, Hunter Rumsky, Elijah Quick, Hayvin Bumbarger, Tony Lopez, Derrick Mikesell, Maddix Carfley, Matt Irvin, Craig Mays, Braison Patrick, Hayden Rumsky, Payton Kephart, Noah Wriglesworth, Connor Peacock, Landon Brady, Rex Butler, Jake Bloom, JT Strischock, Jacob Clark, Sean Shaw.

“9th Grade/ JV Level”: Jake Bloom, Connor Peacock, Jacob Clark, Payton Kephart, Landon Brady, Rex Butler, Sean Shaw, JT Strischock, Avery Schenck, Roland Cummings, Colten Norris, Wes Helsel, Brody Ryen
“7th-8th/Rookie Level” Colson Foster, Drayven Hopkins, Zane Dunsmore,
Wes Helsel, Carson Robbins, Chase Foster, Gunner Foster, Roland Cummings, Avery Schenck, Micah Lumadue, Brennan Harris, Brody Ryen, Caden Harris, Ty Thompson.

The “Dawgs”: Hunter Rumsky, Braison Patrick, Cole Bloom, Hayden Rumsky, Matt Irvin, Craig Mays, Rex Butler, Landon Brady, Payson Kephart, Brody Ryen, Roland Cummings, Jacob Clark, Colten Norris, Brody Ryen

“Big Red Machine”: Elijah Quick, Derrick Mikesell, Maddix Carfley, Connor Peacock, Jake Bloom, Noah Wriglesworth, JT Strischock, Avery Schenck, Sean Shaw, Wes Helsel, Anthony Lopez, Hayvin Bumbarger

Coaches: Sean Quick, Brian Barr, Cory Hoover, Thayne Morgan, David Ryan, Dave Patrick, Andy Bloom, Dan Harris, Lance Thompson, Chad Ryen, Harry Holland