Area Cal Ripken effort assessed
RIVER VALLEY -- There was plenty of activity on the baseball fields throughout the area and a step up in the inaugural year of Western Mountains Cal Ripken Little League.
"We put together a decent league," said Commissioner/President Ed Paterson, considering it was the beginning of March, when the league found out it was going Cal Ripken. The area formed a board comprised of the local towns and Bob Anderson, who ran the GRCC league, was retained as an advisor to the board, with all his past experience. Anderson and the GRCC were instrumental in helping put the schedule together, keep all records and put together the playoff schedule.
Paterson said the league adopted a hybrid of both Cal Ripken rules and local league rules to ease into the transition. In future years, the league will adopt more
and more of the formal Cal Ripken rules. A majority of the coaches certified under Cal Ripken, which entails studying of its rules, regulations and philosophy.
Additionally, several league umpires also became Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth certified, too.
There were two divisions, major and minor, which were like the former little league and farm league. Plans are to expand the divisions to include rookie, major and minor which will allow for a groupings of players closer in age; this will depend on amount of players and coaches.
"We believe that the development of new divisions, the continued development of coaches, players and umpires will be instrumental in increasing learning and competition levels to create a better league that is both fun and challenging,"said Paterson. "We hope the Western Mountain Cal Ripken League will develop a reputation that is similar to our AYF Football League, which has helped create championship football talent in the area for years."
The participation allowed for the creation of four all star teams, made up of 9-12 year olds who are and have competed in regional and state tournaments. Rumford had three teams in each division, including Rumford Point. Dixfield featured teams the Blue Diamonds and Red Sox, who each won respective divisions. Mexico had teams in each division; the recreation program was new this year. Peru had a major team.
Paterson acknowledged Cal Ripken rules are similar to federation rules, with limited substitution, which helped ease the transition. "The rules are designed to make players more ready for playing at higher levels," said Paterson. "These rules are much more practical and informed, as they are directed toward all star play. They are also designed for coaches and players to be more adherent and attentive rather than casual." This included if a runner left a base early (before the pitched ball goes by the batter) is not out as in regular little league after a warning, but is simply sent back to the base if a steal results, or is returned to the previous base on hit ball. This is based on the outcome of the play. Play is not stopped, but a delayed dead ball is signaled to inform that there will be a call after the play happens.
So if a runner on first scores on a double, they are sent back to third base. If a runner would be safe on a force play attempt, they would be called out instead. Baserunners are able to run as they would in upper leagues, without fear of leaving a base too soon and be called out automatically, which is really a softball rule. Players don't have to slide either, but must avoid contact which causes a fielder to misplay a ball or knock a ball loose without sliding, they would be considered out.