Avalanche baseball wraps up fall season
As snow begins to fall in Park City, the autumn baseball seasons are coming to an end.
Though the Park City Avalanche youth baseball programs found some success this fall, Park City High School baseball coach Lou Green, who also coached the 13-and-under Avalanche team, said it’s important not to get caught up in wins and losses.
"Any fall season we coach, even with our high school guys, we try our best to make it a low-pressure, low-intensity type of season," he said. "The fall is more for working on your individual skills and less about the team goals. You always have to have those team goals in mind, but we try to use the fall to develop players individually, and I felt we accomplished our goals in that aspect. Winning is important, but it’s not the most important thing when you’re 8-12 years old it’s about getting better."
In fact, Green added, even in the pros, fall seasons are quite low key.
"If you go to professional fall games at the instructional league in Arizona, there are coaches out on the field and they’re stopping the game in the middle of an inning [to give players instruction]," he said. "That’s the kind of feeling I want to give our kids, like, ‘Hey, the fall is all instructional. The spring is the time when you worry about wins and losses.’"
Green’s 13U team finished the fall with a record of 6-4, led by Andrew Freeman and Ryan Jeffery offensively. On the mound, Jeffery and Walker Whittington, among others, led the way. The 9U team, coached by Jared Halper also finished the season 6-4. On that squad, Weston Halper and Dave Georger led the way on the hill all season long.
The 14U, 12U and 10/11U squads also found success during the short pre-winter season.
But, again, Green said, don’t get caught up in the Avalanche programs finishing above .500 focus on the improvement individually.
"We put a big stress on defense," he said. "We did more defense than anything. I feel like, in this town, the one thing kids struggle with the most is defense because they don’t get to spend as much time outside doing it.
"You can go inside the batting cage and work on your swing, but it’s really hard to take any kind of real defensive work inside a building. There are things you can do in there, though, because we have to do it every year. But we really focused this fall on ground ball mechanics, fly ball mechanics and pitching stuff."
After the end of the season, Green said he was impressed with the improvement shown by players across all age groups.
"I was pleasantly surprised at the talent level and the abilities of the group of kids we had," he said. "I didn’t expect them to be as good of athletes as they were."
For Green, a high school coach, coaching at the youth level has an added benefit more time with future players. He said not a lot of high school coaches do that.
"I talk to other high school coaches across the country when I go on my trips while working with USA Baseball and we are one of the very few programs where the high school coach has contact with the youth players," he said. "From a high school coach’s standpoint, that’s where we separate ourselves from most programs in this state. Being able to work with these kids at an early age, it gives us a head start from other schools, especially at the 3A level."
Then, when players are ready to break into the high school ranks, especially at the 13U and 14U levels, the transition is easier.
"I almost feel like we’re cheating because we get to work with these kids so early," Green joked. "I’m seeing kids at eight years old. Our incoming freshman class, I’ve seen these kids play since they were 10 years old. I know where they need work, I know where they don’t need as much work and they know what we expect. They’ve been around our program and understand that the high school team is a winning club and they expect to win."
And, Green said, that’s what youth baseball is all about having fun and getting ready to help the high school team compete for a state title.
"The work that our high school kids have put into our program to make it what it is, I think that’s why the numbers of youth players keep growing," he said. "Everybody wants to play for a winning program. Success breeds success. I hope the young kids are taking notice of what our high school kids are accomplishing."
The Youth Sports Alliance will host a team scramble golf tournament on June 3 at Victory Ranch in hopes of raising funds for its scholarships and youth programs.