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Blue Sox to face rivals Rebels in first round of playoffs

NewsPosted by admin Tue, August 16, 2016 14:09:22

Leicester Blue Sox have qualified for the end of season playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Tensions were high on the last day of the regular season last Sunday as Leicester knew they needed two wins over their bogey-team Stourbridge Titans to be sure of qualification.

Having lost their previous three encounters against the Titans, Blue Sox manager Alan Edgington knew his players’ needed to be on top of their game.

In the first game, the dependable Lithuanian Justinas Raupenas took to the mound for the Sox and despite a shakey start from his defence in the first inning, any pre-game nerves started to settle down. Raupenas struck-out ten and yielded only two base hits all game.

Leicester’s batting quickly went to work with six runs in the first two innings and three more in the sixth to seal a 9-4 win. Cory Shackleton and Gied Janulevicius did the most damage, driving in three runs apiece.

Without the knowledge that results elsewhere were going their way, the Blue Sox needed to raise themselves once again in game two.

Raupenas continued to pitch before giving way to his countryman Sigitas Juskenas in the third inning; at this stage the score was tied 2-2. After struggling last week, a much improved performance from Juskenas kept the Titans quiet, with only one more run coming across the plate in the fourth inning.

The Blue Sox bats exploded in the fifth inning, when a magnificent seven runs came home to virtually end the contest. The remaining two innings were scoreless, giving Leicester a much-needed 10-3 victory at the conclusion.

The weekend’s results mean Leicester finished third in the BBF Central division, giving them home advantage when they will host fourth-placed Nottingham Rebels this Sunday for a place in the National Quarter-Finals.

A fiercely competitive encounter with their local rivals is expected. Nottingham have the slight edge winning three of their regular season fixtures and Blue Sox just the two. Leicester will be hoping to even this up and then progress further in the playoffs; first pitch at Western Park is midday.



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Blue Sox Junior teams getting ready for the 2016 post-season

NewsPosted by admin Thu, August 11, 2016 21:32:36

With the school holidays drawing to a close at the end of this month, Blue Sox Junior players across all age-groups will be returning to Western Park to start their preparations for our biggest-ever youth baseball post-season.

Under 19’s - class of 2012 set to graduate

Our oldest age-group originally began when our Blue Sox Junior programme was launched in February 2012. Amazingly the involvement of the majority this squad can be traced back to this inaugural year. A real testament to the work of the Blue Sox coaching staff, especially u19 Team Coach Phil Rudkin who has worked with these players for all five seasons of Blue Sox Juniors.

With players moving onto university this year and next, this sadly seems like it will be the last season this team will be competing together on the baseball diamond but they are set to go out with a bang at the upcoming 2016 Youth National Baseball Championships.

Last season they finished a respectable fourth place in the Nationals after qualifying as the BBF Youth North Champions. This year there is no prior qualifier and our under 19’s go straight into the YNBC in what is expected to be a traditional ‘final four’ tournament with teams from London, or possibly a three-team round robin.

Under 15’s - first taste of YNBCs


One of the challenges we faced a couple of years into our Blue Sox Junior programme, was the establishment of a second junior team in the next age group down. The club initially struggled to recruit and retain such players but things started to fall into place by the end of the 2014 season when an under 13 was formed from scratch and entered into the BSUK Play Ball! Championship against Hull Junior Scorpions.

Becoming an under 14 team last season, we attracted more players but once again faced a superior Hull side, this time in the BBF Youth North Qualifier. We also enjoyed a great series of games with Halton Polecats, which yielded our first-ever competitive win.

2015 was closed-out at via our first-ever entry into the Herts Futures Tournament.

This year our Under 15 players have been combined with selected under 11 players to form a 'Midlands Little League' featuring two internal club teams ‘Saints and Dragons’. The initiative has helped address the enduring problem of long distance travel and also increase the number of regular season games played. The furthest our players had to travel this season was Stourbridge in the West Midlands.

With a Little League 'finale' at Western Park scheduled for Saturday 20 August, the under 15’s then follow this up with an appearance in the u16 YNBC Div 2 tournament at Farnham Park two weeks later.

Little Sox under 10s

The growth of the Little Sox programme this season has been nothing short of staggering. With over 60 players signed-up before opening day and the majority of them invading Western Park throughout the spring and summer, we have needed to split the kids into two age-groups (under 11 and under 7).

The majority of the oldest age-group have been playing tee-ball for a couple of years and were introduced to coach-pitch mid-way through last season. The brave step to progress them quickly into machine-pitch baseball has paid dividends with a surprise bronze medal finish at the under 11 UK Little League (Machine Pitch) Championships in June.

Little Sox are back at Farnham Park on Sunday 4 August but will be joined by a larger number of teams, as the machine-pitch format starts to catch on. We are still likely to be one of the youngest teams at this tournament, but our coaches are confident we can once gain hang with the bigger kids!

Herts Futures Tournament – Under 13s and Under 8s

HFT is the traditional end of the junior season, held one week after the YNBCs. It has a more inclusive feel playing shortened games to enable play against as many teams as possible in a single day.

We will be using the opportunity to experiment with different combination of players. Our ‘under 13’ team will comprise players at the youngest end of our under 15 programme, coupled with our most developed Little Sox under 11 players.

Additionally we will be entering an ‘under 8’ team, which will blend our younger Little Sox under 11 kids with emerging talent from our under 7 tee-ball programme.

We can’t wait to see how these teams fair, especially those who have not played competitive baseball before.

Junior Teams Manager Matt Crawshaw summarised “I have to admit I was extremely worried for the future of our programme just two years ago. Phil and I were scratching our heads wondering how we were going to be able to keep the programme going with just one team, getting older by the year. Then all of a sudden, our hardwork of the first couple of years not only started paying dividends, it has multiplied them across a greater number of age-groups than we ever thought imaginable.”

He added “The growth of Little Sox this year has exceeded all expectations and I have been very grateful to Dan Zinnikas and Steve Rollins stepping-up to not only support, but lead our Little Sox coaching effort. It will be a sad moment to see the last-ever under 19s games played next month, it has been a helluva journey with its ups and downs – but we’ve kept going in face of tremendous adversity. Seeing our class of 2012 'graduate' this post-season will be one of the key moments in our 10th Anniversary year. There will be sadness, but it is also exciting we have another three age-groups coming through which secures a bright future for the Junior programme in the years’ to come. Let’s go Blue Sox!"



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Blue Sox remain in playoff mix

NewsPosted by admin Wed, July 20, 2016 20:56:41

Leicester Blue Sox remain in playoff contention after another two fine wins at Western Park at the weekend.

The Sox had the difficult task of taming a tough Milton Keynes Bucks side, who had got the better of Leicester in their previous encounter earlier this season.

Justenas Raupenas started on the mound again for the Blue Sox neutralising the threat from the Bucks, who remained scoreless in the first couple of innings.

In reply, Leicester steamed ahead scoring five runs in the first inning and then another six in the third to build a commanding 11-2 lead.

Sox were rarely troubled by Milton Keynes for the remainder of the game, finishing with a fine 13-5 victory.

Game two was an even better game of baseball as Sigitas Juskensas shut out the Bucks for the entire fixture. A feat made even more impressive as he was pitching with three broken fingers in his glove hand; only allowing two hits and two walks.

Leicester's bats backed up their pitcher once again with five runs in the first four innings, which was enough to hold out for a 5-0 win at the conclusion.

Blue Sox remain second in the BBF Central Division but still have work to do in their remaining fixtures to ensure they secure a place in the end of season playoffs.

After an off-week this Sunday, Leicester travel to Marston Green for a tough test against league leaders Birmingham Bandits, who only picked up their first defeat of the season last weekend. The Sox will be hoping they can deal them their second on Sunday 31 July.

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School of Baseball & Softball launches in July

NewsPosted by admin Mon, July 04, 2016 19:35:26


This July sees the launch of a new development initiative for baseball and softball in the Midlands. The School of Baseball & Softball (SBS) is a new regional branding that will look to support programmes at clubs, schools, universities and in the wider community.

The long-term aim of the 'School', is to pool together coaching and other resources from a number of local clubs to deliver an exciting menu of baseball and softball development across the region. We hope that this collective approach will improve the reach and scale of delivery, as we look to grow participation in the Midlands as a whole.

Starting this month there will be a SBS pilot initiative – the Junior Pitchers and Catchers Camp, which will be hosted at Western Park, Leicester on selected Sunday afternoons.

With kids breaking up from school during July, the pilot is aiming to provide an ideal school summer holiday baseball activity for both boys and girls aged 6-14.

The camp is free and open to beginners and improvers across the region who are looking to develop themselves as pitchers or catchers.

The dates and times of the camp, are as follows:

Sunday 10th July 1pm-2.30pm
Sunday 24th July 1pm-2.30pm
Sunday 31st July 1pm-2.30pm

Registration

Places are limited!

Book your child onto any or all of the upcoming sessions using the following link:

https://bbfyouth.wufoo.com/forms/school-of-baseball-softball-summer-camp/

We looking forward to welcoming you to the School of Baseball & Softball this summer!










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Little Sox heading to UK Little League Tournament

NewsPosted by admin Tue, June 14, 2016 19:38:10

Leicester Blue Sox's u11 coach-pitch team is heading the UK Little League Tournament being held this weekend at the Farnham Park National Baseball and Softball Complex.

The 'Little Sox' have been training hard for the past two months in preparation for this event, which will see them entering the Tournament for the first time in their history.

The schedule for this Sunday's games has been confirmed as follows:

10am London Sports v Herts Baseball
12pm Leicester Little Sox v Brighton Jets
2pm Winners final and losers 3rd/4th place match

The games will be the second time Little Sox have travelled further afield for competitive games. This time last year, our littlest sluggers travelled to RAF Daws Hill for a pair of exhibition coach-pitch games with London Youth Baseball League. On the very same day, LYBL were hosting some of the 2015 Little League finals in other age-groups so it is an exciting prospect to see our young players go full circle in the space of 12 months and now be ready to enter this year's National tournament.

Coaching the Little Sox, will be the following parent/coaches who have players on the team:

Matt Crawshaw
Dan Zinnikas
Steve Rollins
Mark Young

Looking forward to this Sunday's games Matt Crawshaw said "The growth of Little Sox, especially over the past couple of years has been phenomenal. We had over 40 kids at opening day two months back and there is some incredible talent starting to emerge. We might end up being one of the youngest teams in this weekend's tournament but that bodes well for the future as we look to keep a core group of players together for successive seasons."

He added "Most of all, we want the kids to have lots of fun and we have a post-tournament meal planned at the end of the day. I'm sure the kids and parents will be hungry after a long day of baseball. Last Sunday, we completed our final preparations with some of our tournament players training for almost four hours in the rain - they are really dedicated and raring to go!"

You can follow the progress of the Little Sox this Sunday on Facebook.






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Midlands Little League Baseball ready for reboot in 2016

NewsPosted by admin Sat, March 26, 2016 17:11:39


Junior baseball across our region is expected to enjoy another growth spurt in 2016, with the advent of a new initiative – Midlands Little League Baseball.

First attempts to revive a junior league format in the region can be traced back to two years ago, when efforts we made to capitalise on an increasing number of junior players in Leicester and Nottingham. Unfortunately, neither of the individual clubs had sufficient infra-structure in place to capitalise on this and Leicester Blue Sox instead switched their emphasis towards re-growing participation with the club setting.

Two years later and the Blue Sox have a record number of juniors actively playing baseball across a range of age groups, with the main concentration of new activity happening in the u11 and u15 age bandings.


Close to 20 players have already have signed up for the 2016 season and a decision has been made to re-form a regional Little League in order to maximise participation and most importantly minimise travel.

Leicester Blue Sox will roster their u11/u15 players (subject to a minimum age of 8) to two teams, using the recently announced interclub branding of ‘Saints’ and ‘Dragons’. With youth participation also growing at our affiliate Northants Centurions, it is hoped a third team can be added to this regional league in the near future.

Additionally, the league will act as a growth hub for youth baseball across the region, providing a framework and pathway for other adult baseball clubs in the Midlands to enrol into the league, either in part or full.

The main emphasis of the league will be development and flexibility. As a region, junior baseball is someway behind the top programmes in and around London and our intention isn't to compete with that and instead develop at our own pace.

Initially, all Midlands Little League games will be hosted at Western Park, Leicester but there will be capacity to move the show on the road to Northants when their new field is ready later this season and also organise exhibition games at places like Long Eaton, Stourbridge, Birmingham and Nottingham to help kick start their own programmes.

Efforts have been made to ensure the league game rules are simplified and inclusive to new participants, who may initially be challenged with the complexities of pitching etc.

Schedule

An outline schedule of games at Western Park has been developed as per below. Specific dates/times will be firmed-up shortly. Night games will be single-headers played on Thursday evening and day games will be double-headers played on Saturdays

May

Saturday 7 May (double-header)
Thursday 12 May (single-header)
Saturday 21 May (double-header)
Thursday 26 May (single-header)

Total games = 6

June

Thursday 2 June (single-header)
Saturday 4 June (double-header)
Thursday 9 June (single-header)
Thursday 16 June (single-header)

Total games = 5

July

Thursday 7 July (single-header)

Total games = 1

August

Saturday 20 August (double-header)
Thursday 25 August (single-header)

Total games = 3

Total number of games scheduled = 15 (7 single headers night, 4 double headers day)

Proposed game rules:

• Games will be 4 innings

• Pitch count 60 pitches or 2 innings

• If pitcher does not get all 3 outs in an inning by the 30th pitch, coach pitch mops up

• 5 run limit per inning for first three innings

• Umpire discretion run limit/open for final inning

• Coach will umpire games (situated near pitchers mound not behind plate, to enable in-game coaching and relief pitching), at least 1-2 parents per team needed to run benches, count pitches, keep score

Under 11 games


We are also looking to modify the above format for Little Sox under 11, who will play games alternate fortnightly on Sundays.

Current modifications being considered:

• 3 inning games

• 3 run limit

• 40 pitch limit on the day

• coach pitch mops up after 20 pitches

• safety 1B bag

• smaller minimum number of players per team (as less plays in outfield)

We of course would be delighted from would-be new players aged 8-14 who would be interested in playing in the new league. The more players we can recruit, the more teams we can form and the more baseball will be played!

You can notify us of your interest via:

juniors@leicesterbluesox.co.uk





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Dragons fired-up for First Ball!

NewsPosted by admin Fri, March 25, 2016 07:44:22

Leicester Blue Sox will be starting their own co-ed slowpitch league this year, with all members aged 11-adult getting involved on designated family softball nights during the Spring and Summer at Western Park.

New team logos have been designed and our ‘Saints’ and ‘Dragons’ softball tees are in production and due to arrive shortly.

The first competitive softball action of 2016 gets going on Sunday 3 April when the East Midlands Softball League host their ‘First Ball’ slowpitch tournament at Charnwood College, Leicester.

We have entered the Dragons into this event, who will participate in the ‘rec tournament’.

The confirmed Dragons schedule is as follows:

9am Dragons v Cougars

11am Dragons v Misfits

1pm Dragons v York University

3.15pm or 4.15pm Semi-Final

5.15pm (if successful) Final

Our squad of male and female players currently include:

Joel Upton

Martin Andrews

Chris Mee

James Wallace

Hugo Franklin

Neil Farr

Jade Cerff

Nade Townsend

Liz Morgan-Danvers

Kerry Ramplin

Saskia Davies

Laura Campbell-Adams

We still have room for a few more players, so if you are interested in suiting up for the Dragons please email us via:

softball@leicesterbluesox.co.uk

There will be a warm-up softball game at Western Park this Sunday 27 March (10am-12pm) to help us prepare for First Ball and we also have our first baseball and softball weeknight practice arranged for Wednesday 30 March (6pm-dusk).

With regional slowpitch tournaments, inter club family softball nights, local fastpitch games and the Great Britain Fastpitch League all on deck, we are expecting a big season of softball at the club!










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Blue Sox pre-season on deck

NewsPosted by admin Thu, March 24, 2016 20:02:40

Leicester Blue Sox look to start making their final preparations for the 2016 season with a pair of warm-up games in early April.

On Sunday 3 April, the Sox face Liverpool Trojans an experienced outfit from the North-West who will provide a stern test for the Light Blues.

Leicester’s new skipper Alan Edgington will be using the fixture to evaluate a broad range of seasoned pro’s and exciting prospects that have all been looking good during Spring Training.

The following Sunday (10 April) presents a dress rehearsal of opening day when Long Eaton Storm come to town. Both teams will be looking for clues to see how they will fair in their season opener which follows on Sunday 17 April, also at Western Park.

Baseball training will be switching to our traditional Wednesday evening slot, starting this Wednesday 30 March running 6pm-dusk (extending to 8.30pm when the nights get a bit lighter).

If you think you got what it takes to suit up for the Sox, we are always looking for new talent to join the ranks of our adult/junior baseball and women/girls softball sections.

Additionally, we would be delighted to hear from any volunteers or supporters in a non-playing capacity to help the club tick over during our 10th Anniversary year.

There is much to look forward to in 2016, so hit us up with an email if you want to get involved.

info@leicesterbluesox.co.uk

Let's go Blue Sox!



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