COVENTRY- Steve Northup, the manager of the Coventry’s Babe Ruth baseball team is hopeful that the level of interest local players have shown in coming out for the team can stretch to other towns across the state in years to come.
In just its second year of existence, the league Coventry currently plays in is just four teams deep, meaning that there is a not a particularly wide range of competition to take part in. All of Coventry’s games between now and the second weekend of September, when the season concludes, will be played against either Warwick PAL, Providence or Cumberland.
The fact that Providence is currently undefeated helps matters some, as far as improving goes, but Northup is optimistic that next summer there will be a wider array of options.
“We’re really trying to get this league kicked off,” he said. “Smithfield’s interested, Pawtucket’s interested in putting together a team,” he said, listing a pair of towns that could potentially join the league next season.
He noted that the time of year, with the start of school right around the corner, will always serve as an uphill climb when it comes to attracting kids to play, but added that in his own team’s case, it has largely worked out.
“It’s always a challenge this time of year because we have vacations. We’re fortunate because we had such a great turnout with kids,” he said.
In addition to expanding the league from four teams to six, and possibly even more, Northup also touched up on another goal he is hoping to help get accomplished.
“Hopefully take a couple or three players off of each team, depending on how many teams we wind up having and putting a Rhode Isand team together to go to the 16-18 Youth All-Star Tournament,” he said, summarizing the plan for next summer.
The Ocean State has not sent a team to the 16-18 All-Star Tournament, something Northup would like to see changed. “It would be nice if we sent out a Rhode Island team,” he said. It is too deep into this year’s season to make it happen, but it is an objective worth shooting for in 2017. “I don’t know quite how we are going to do it yet,” he said, noting that timing will likely be another hurdle once again.
Certain Connie Mack clubs have their seasons last deep into the summer, depending on how far they venture into the postseason, which could hinder the process of recruiting players to comprise an All-Star club. Nonetheless, Northup is hopeful to see it through.
He has also made it a mission to get his club up to New Hampshire, for a weekend of tournament play up in the town of Keene. Northup said that he would like to a have a similar approach to that tournament as well, in that it would not be restricted solely to players from Coventry, but a handful of players from a range of different teams.
For now there are only four teams, but come this time next summer, the baseball scene in Rhode Island could look entirely different.