By Greg Price
It was a season to remember for the Vauxhall/Enchant Red Sox who won the Norcrest Little League Baseball Championship earlier this month in dominating fashion.
“It was a great group of boys who showed up and worked hard and loved the age. At this age kids can lose focus at a minor age (10-and-under),” said Scott Reiling, head coach of the Vauxhall/Enchant Red Sox. “At that age, it’s really about what you do outside the practices and what you do on your weekends and what you do on your summer off that makes a good baseball team. These kids are not the ones who are just doing this two times a week. They are taking their gloves to school, they are playing catch and they are in the batting cage, or after a game they are still hanging out and playing games for awhile.”
That love of the game, where the kids are a frequent visitor of the ball diamonds, made the Red Sox go 12-0 with many lopsided scores on the ledger.
“The kids love the game and it takes awhile to develop the skills. Because they played so much outside regular league time, it put us in a spot where we were significantly better than anything that was in Norcrest because of the extra time the kids put in. They understood the game, how to play the game and their skills have far surpassed the level that U10 should be at,” said Reiling of the league that had a 46-foot mound and 60-foot basepaths.
Playing the league championship in Coaldale, the Red Sox won the semifinal 17-3 in four innings and the final 17-4 earlier this month.
“We were pretty dominant. We would see teams and they would march out their big arm. We were deep enough that we put a different kid out there every inning on the mound,” said Reiling.
“Even after the tournament we had lots of pitching left where I didn’t put kids in. We just cycled through where we were 10-running teams by the fourth or fifth inning. It was just a group of kids that understand the game and it sets up very well for the future of baseball in the Vauxhall/Enchant area as these kids continue to grow.”
Also aiding that growth of the Red Sox this season was a top-notch coaching staff for such a young age group. Reiling was aided by four Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets players who helped the Red Sox fly to its undefeated record in K.J. Moreno, Brett Resch, Jordan Malainey and Garrett Nicholson.
“The VAB players are great and they loved working with the kids. I had four of them at all my practices where we could split into groups and work on individual skills, and at games, most of the time I had all four of them there,” said Reiling.
“There’s five of us on the field working with 10 kids, that helps huge having that skill level available to teach kids skills at eight, nine, 10 years old how to do things properly.”
That coaching has made the Red Sox aggressive in their approach where when they get to bat they are not looking for a bunt or a walk to get on the basepaths.
“And whatever position you are playing, go out and do it well and pitchers, make them hit by throwing strikes crossing the plate and make them work for it,” said Reiling. “Winning isn’t everything, but it does help develop their love of the sport.”
The championship win helps mark a solid time for baseball in the Vauxhall/Enchant/Hays area for the foreseeable future.
“Large numbers are great, but committed numbers are better,” said Reiling. “We have a good committed group here, and even looking at the Major age level which is a year older, Vauxhall and Enchant have their own separate teams and there’s a lot of committed kids there. You are talking about a four year stretch here where also the kids have a lot of opportunity in the sport with baseball camps in the winter and spring and traveling teams.”
The Norcrest “AA” all-star team has been announced in which Eric Reiling, Landon Howg, Cash Crowson and Patrick Delanoy have made the team.
“We have joined with Lethbridge North for that team and the season goes right until the end of July, every weekend,” said Reiling, as Vauxhall/Enchant players will comprise a third of the whole team. “The fact we have four kids on that team out of all of Lethbridge North and Norcrest, it shows the strength of our players.”