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Friday, May 3, 2019

New little league AAA division helps build skill

By Matt Pascarella

The Minors division of Windham Little League is for ages 7 to 11 who didn’t make the majors division. Until recently, if a player did not make the majors, there was no division between minors and majors where a player could work on  skills and be ready for the majors division the following year. Until now.

This year, Windham Little League along with its Board of Directors, Vice President of the minors division, Mike Butterfield, and the league’s many devoted coaches are introducing a ‘triple A’ (AAA) division to the league. The AAA division could also be referred to as mid-majors, but it’s still the minors division and its goal is to get kids ready for that next step, which is moving up to the majors division.

Part of the reason for the addition of the AAA division is the Little League International organization changed the eligibility age which in turn makes the whole league younger.

“Last year we played baseball with kids ages 7 to 11 on the same team playing under the same rules. What we found out was the skillsets were totally different,” explained Butterfield. He spoke with his coaches as well as coaches from other towns. “We needed to come up with a way to enhance the skillsets of the older kids of that division.”

AA is a developmental league. It’s geared towards kids ages seven to nine who are coming from coach pitch or are in their first or second year of the minors division who aren’t ready for the competitiveness or have the skillset for the AAA division.

All the coaches in the AAA division are returning coaches from Minors baseball. The AAA division will feature five teams: Windham Powersports, Jet Ski Guy, MPM Sealcoating, Top to Bottom and new this year, the league will be adding a Raymond team, Sunset Variety. There will also be some interleague play with the town of Gray.

The AAA division is set up for ages 9 to 11 for kids who didn’t make it into the majors division. The AAA division will get kids ready for majors by teaching them skills such as base stealing, bunting and leading.

In order to understand the new league better and gain a better appreciation of the game, coach Chris McDonald and coach Dustin Bartz of Windham Power Sports took an umpire training, detailing rules and play procedure.

“From a coaching end of the game, it’s really important for us to understand all the rules,” explains McDonald. “For us to go through the umpire training puts us in a much better, clearer understanding of how we need to run our boys and what we need to teach our boys to be ready for majors. Prior to the AAA division it was almost like a light switch; it was black and white. When you were in minors, you were in minors and when you went to majors it was pretty much completely different. Having the AAA division gives us a gray area.”

“Knowledge always give you an advantage,” said Bartz. “Umpire training has made me a better coach, given me more confidence and affected the strategies we use in games.”

The AAA teams will gain the strength and skill needed to compete at the Majors level as well as a full understanding of how to play the game.


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