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Senior leaguebaseball set to return

Creating a league for senior baseball players to compete in, is one of the main items on the agenda for the Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) this year. As a result, the executive members met last evening, in an effort to exchange ideas to get this project off the ground.

According to BBF General Secretary, Teddy Sweeting, the federation is planning on sending a squad off to compete in the World Baseball Challenge, set for Canada, in July. The team, which had several workout sessions during the Christmas holidays, will comprise of collegiate and former international standouts like Greg Burrows Jr., Nathan Forsythe and Jaron Sands. It is believed that establishing a regular season league for the country’s baseball players will assist when the team competes regionally or internationally, as well as create an avenue for them to showcase their talents. The federation is planning on using the field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex for regular season games.

“Apart from the nationals, the other major one we are looking at right now is our senior men’s national team which will be comprised of a lot of former professional players who have now returned home,” said Sweeting. ”The team is preparing to head to the World Baseball Challenge, in Canada, in July, so we really want to assemble all of our collegiate players, so they too can be a part of this. Right now, they are preparing for their upcoming seasons. We had positive results when they were home for the holidays, in respect to assembling that team, so now we are expecting some good results when we put it all together and the final selection process is done. As far as baseball is concerned, I think the year is shaping up to be very exciting in all of the leagues. They are all preparing to travel to either regional or international competitions.”

“There is a senior league in Grand Bahama and we will have one in New Providence, which we anticipate will start at the end of March, probably the first part of April. We do need it because we want a lot of the senior players who are at home to play, in anticipation of the trip in July. The most important part of it, in all aspects, we want a disciplined senior program. When we say disciplined, we don’t want the issues that are now being confronted with a lot of the sports, in respect of attitude and how young men carry themselves. Our goal is to make sure that once we do put on a program, people know exactly what they are getting involved in, and they know that prior to getting involved, that we are not going to tolerate any foolishness.”

Sweeting said setting rules and not enforcing them can be harmful to programs especially when young players are involved. Since the senior program will be the top level of play locally for baseball players, he said the federation wants to ensure that there is a smooth transition in the feeder system.

Last year was a stellar year for baseball locally, where a World Series title was won and several teams competed at high levels in their respective divisions. The federation is hoping to have another exciting year in terms of accomplishments. Sweeting said that they are looking forward to duplicating the efforts last year, so the kids will have the exposure they need to assist in accomplishing the biggest goal, receiving scholarships.

He said: ”In respect to the expectations for this year, we have high ones as a result of the accomplishments that the youth and junior league baseball teams saw in 2010. We saw JBLN, that represents Pony Baseball, win the Caribbean regional tournament, defeating Panama. With that win, the team was able to move on and represent the country and the entire Caribbean in that division, in California. They were not successful, but their accomplishment was still big.”

“The other major accomplishment that has received a lot of praise was Freedom Farm winning the World Series at the Cal Ripken 12-and-under tournament. I think what that win has done now for baseball is allow people to realize what has been going on in the country all along. It showed all of the hard work that many, many individuals have been putting in, in respect to the development of young baseball players. We are now seeing some of the fruits of their labors with these accomplishments. Over the years, we have been knocking on the door. We have been placing second at the regional tournaments in the Caribbean and when we travel into the United States, we havenever been able to win, but what Freedom Farm was able to do, was prove that we can win at the international level and big tournaments. It was a tremendous accomplishment for baseball and for the federation.”

According to Sweeting, all leagues will compete in regional and international tournaments in the summer and the annual BBF Andre Rodgers Championships will be used as a warm-up for these events.

Sweeting said:”We are looking forward to a very, very exciting year in all of our leagues. Right now, some of the leagues haven’t even started but all of them are talking about the nationals. They are all anticipating the nationals. Some of them have even instituted different techniques, in terms of their selection process and in preparation. From the federation’s stand point, we see a very exciting nationals. We will be returning to Freeport in June. That is our biggest event scheduled for this year. We have a few other events scheduled on the calendar in respect of baseball.”

Associations listed under the BBF’s umbrella are Nassau Baseball, Grand Bahama Senior Baseball, the Freedom Farm Baseball League, the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN), the Grand Bahama Little League, Spanish Wells Baseball, Long Island Baseball, Bimini Baseball, Abaco Baseball and Inagua Baseball. More than 35 Bahamian players are currently playing baseball in high schools in the United States and about 15 are playing collegiate baseball.

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