Tuesday, April 11, 2023

OPENING DAY: New Teen Baseball League Offers Additional Opportunities to Play Ball

The first pitches were thrown Monday evening on a new teen baseball league that brings together players from northern Schuylkill, Northumberland, and Columbia Counties.

Other than practices on the property, it's been over a decade since the crack of a baseball bat could be heard at the former Cardinal Brennan school in Butler Township near Fountain Springs.

That all changed Monday evening, when the new 14U Pioneer Division held their opening day for Ashland area teams in the shadow of the former Catholic school.

This new league brings together teams from Ashland, Mount Carmel, Line Mountain, Southern Columbia, and Shamokin creating 8 teams.  Ashland alone incorporates 3 teams totaling 35 players.  

These communities came together to create the league when they all realized their players were facing the same problem when they graduated from Little League.

"Our 12-year-olds really didn't have a direction on where to go.  Some went to other leagues and a lot did nothing.  We wanted to do something that gave them sort of direction that brought them together." Ashland Representative, Alan Urbanowicz said.

"We talked to Mount Carmel, and they thought the same thing.  A lot of times in teener leagues, which go from 13-16, you have 13-year-olds facing 16-year-old pitchers, or they end up sitting on a bench waiting for their time.  We all felt they needed something between Little League and Teeners to make it more competitive and help them get ready for that next step." Urbanowicz added.

The next hurdle was starting a league from scratch, so organizers started fundraising.  They raised enough for equipment and for uniforms.

The final hurdle was finding somwhere to play.  The Ashland teams turned to the North Schuylkill School District.  The former Cardinal Brennan baseball field was available, but it needed a lot of work.  Thanks to the coaches, they came together and put a lot of volunteer hours in and revitalized the field and it looks better than ever.

Monday night's opening game had the Ashland Bulls defeat the Ashland Astros 9-8.  The first pitches were thrown out by Robert Kempsey, the son of Patrick Kempsey, the former Cardinal Brennan Athletic Director, Coach, and teacher, who the Cardinal Brennan Sports Complex is named after.  Jim Gross, the athletic director for North Schuylkill also threw a pitch.  Gross represented North Schuylkill for their help in allowing the teams to play on their property.

Urbanowicz specifically thanked North Schuylkill including AD Jim Gross, Superintendent Dr. Bob Ackell, Business Manager Bob Amos, and the school board for standing behind the new league. 

"Without them, this didn't happen" Urbanowicz said.

Teams will play through the end of May which will include playoffs and a league champion being crowned.