Babe Ruth emphasizes development, not wins

Tyler Snavely fires a pitch in a win over Anacortes earlier this spring. - Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times
Tyler Snavely fires a pitch in a win over Anacortes earlier this spring.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

With a philosophy that emphasizes developing players, the Oak Harbor Babe Ruth baseball program looks for success in the future and growth today.

Coach Bill Young said, “Many players had opportunities to expand their experience and capabilities by playing multiple positions, pitching and having nearly equal playing time over the course of the season.”

With giving players equal playing time and a shot at different positions, Young is willing to take a hit in the win column by not playing his best athletes in their strongest positions: “Because we were focusing on player development, we lost games in which we held early leads but succumbed to errors as the game progressed.”

Oak Harbor sports an 8-20 record. Young said, “At times I need to remind myself that although many are league-age 14, they are mostly first-year Babe Ruth or the equivalent of league-age 13 with respect to fundamental baseball knowledge and experience. While most of the competition have been together for two and three years in competitive baseball, the Oak Harbor players are facing some of the challenges for the first time.”

Early in the season, Young emphasized arm strength, weights and baseball-strength conditioning drills. He said, “The difference was subtle at first; however, in recent weeks I have witnessed players throwing on the mark to home plate from the outfield that previously could not make the throw from second base to home plate.”

Young said he and assistant coach Dominique Herring spent considerable time teaching the fundamentals of the game while stressing “the importance of an education” and that “homework has priority.”

Young said, “With 90 out of every 100 scholarships going for academics, and only two or three for baseball, it means keep the grades up in order to play ball at college.”

“Our goal is to train and educate while providing playing experience,” he said. That goal shifts, however, as the team heads to the post season. District begins next week, and unlike the regular season, the goal will be to win each game and earn a trip to state.

The format for district, which will be played in Burlington, has not been determined. Oak Harbor will either open with Sedro-Woolley at 6 p.m. Monday, July 2, or against Burlington-La Connor Thursday, July 5.

The Oak Harbor Babe Ruth team consists of 13-year-olds  Trent Benson, Robert Herring, Jared Hunt and Kevyn Johnson; and 14-year-olds Christian Bertram, Sean Erskine, Alex Harrison, Fred Miller, Allen Peruelo, Preston Rankin, Tyler Snavely, Quentin Tungate, Ryan Valencia, Max Van Dam and Noah Zuniga.

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