2012 was the most successful year in Herts Baseball Club’s history in every department on and off the field. It continues to be one of the largest baseball clubs in Great Britain in terms of size, infrastructure, financial performance and is now beginning to mount a serious challenge on the field at every league level with 4 out of the club’s 8 teams reaching the postseason in 2012.
To review 2012, we are publishing excerpts from the End of Year Report at the club’s Annual General Meeting.
HERTS TEAMS IN THE YOUTH LEAGUES
Success is usually measured by whether a trophy was won or not and on that basis Herts would not be considered a major player in the British youth leagues in 2012. However, those with inside knowledge of the youth leagues in this country would say that Herts is seen as the model for others to follow. The youth programme is positioned very well to offer a high quality product for every young player, from a beginner who is keen to give baseball a try to an advanced player aiming to play at the highest level of the game and represent their country internationally. With growth of 12% in youth players this year and plans for further growth, the club would be in an even better position to do this in the coming years.
The Herts U17 and U14 teams did not win the championship this year but they are very much on track to be a major contender when this Herts generation reaches the final year of the 3-year cycle in the respective age group.
Cris Hiche took charge of the U17 team and we are already seeing significant progress, earlier than we could have expected. Last year the team lost 11-10 in the quarter-final against the Essex RedBacks. This year the two teams met at the same stage and Herts won convincingly 23-0. The team is also starting to challenge the favourites like the London Mets and had a .500 record in the regular season games against the eventual champions, Cobham Cougars. This has raised expectations for 2013 when this generation of U17 players is expected to reach its peak and aims to win the title in the same way as they did in 2010 at U14 level.
The Herts U14 team reached the final last year, however 7 players from that team moved up to the U17 age group which meant that 2012 was a transitional year. The team is expected to be at its peak in 2014 and 2015 and performances this year indicate that with hard work over the next few years this new generation of U14 players can be just as successful as the previous one.
The coaching staff of the Herts U11 teams made a deliberate shift in its approach. The number of league games has been reduced in favour of intensive training sessions. This has meant that players are able to perform greater number of repetitions which is critical in developing the fundamental baseball skills at this age. The progress has been remarkable and the U11 coaches should be very proud of what they have achieved. Coach Mike Wakelam even managed to add extra summer sessions for the U11 players at the ballpark and the batting cages in Northwick Park.
The players are recognising the extra effort made by the coaches and they are responding by working even harder.