by Mike Lennox, Executive Director
We just returned from the RBI Regional Tournament in Detroit on Sunday, and have mixed results to report. First, the highlight of the tournament was the girls’ softball team winning their first game in this tournament since 2008 by beating Detroit 10-6. Shelbi Ledgerwood was our winning pitcher. Interesting enough, Shelbi first came on this team five years ago when she was 13 years-old. She, along with a lot of other girls on this team, took their lumps over the last few years. It was truly joyful to see them win! And David James, national director of the RBI program, was on hand to see it.
Even though we won that game, we did lose the other two games to Cincinnati 12-2 and Cleveland 7-3. But we played Cleveland tougher than anyone else, which brought many compliments about how much we have improved, and how we are doing it the right way…developing from within, not loading up with “outside” talent for the tournament. We had 10 African American girls, one Hispanic and four white girls….and we only lose three girls off this team for next year. We are building our team the right way, and will continue to do so.
The boys, on the other hand, had a rougher weekend. Our senior boys managed to win one game against Pittsburgh 8-4, but dropped games to Cincinnati, Cleveland and Detroit by scores of 11-1, 8-7 and 4-1 respectively. The junior boys dropped all four games to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit by 11-3, 7-5, 15-7 and 15-3 scores.
So overall, we went 2-9 for the tournament, which is not good, but mostly acceptable because our kids were well-behaved and sportsmanlike. For over 20 years we have been going to these tournaments, and I have consistently said that I am not as concerned about winning and losing as I am about playing hard, being a good sport and behaving like responsible adults.
Shifting gears….our regular season house leagues wrapped up play on July 1 with the last of several all-star games featuring kids from all of our parks. I will go into more depth at the board meeting later this week, but overall I was pleased. We will have final numbers this week, but it looks like we are up to 1500+ kids for the season, which is about a 35-40% increase over the previous year.
One thing is clear to me….we need more resources. We need to provide more training for coaches and umpires. The growth of our program is beginning to outpace the growth of our fund development efforts. We also need to do a better job of policy making/enforcement and coaches/umpire/parent training. This will all be addressed in the off-season.