Structure of club baseball teams replace pick-up games - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

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Structure of club baseball teams replace pick-up games

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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 3:00 pm

When Brock Burton goes deep into the hole between first base and second base for a diving stop, it looks routine to Jaydon Brooks.

And when Brooks lines a ball into the gap and he stretches it into a stand-up triple, Travis Moore has seen it plenty of times before.

While the Ahwatukee Majors have been together only a short time, most of the roster can be split into two club teams, giving the roster a familiarity factor that can be helpful when the game is on the line.

"All of these kids know the game because they have played so many games," coach Rocky Kern said. "We don't have to tell them to get down on ground balls or use signs. They know the game and they know each other. That is a big bonus."

Four of the players - Justin Spearnock, Burton, Brooks and Moore - played for the Sandlot club team that won the 10 under Winter Nationals Super NIT in Orlando, Fla.

The rest of the team - other than Josh Wunnenberg - played for the Surf Dawgs, a more local Ahwatukee team that didn't travel as much but still got plenty of innings together.

"This group pretty much got our butts handed to us by Chandler National as 9 and 10 year olds so a bunch of the fathers got together to figure out what we needed to do," Kern said. "We figured out if we wanted to be competitive we had to start a club team."

It's the way of youth baseball today.

Long gone are kids hopping on their bikes with mitts and bats and heading to the local field for a pickup game.

It's all organized.

From fall ball practices to signatures on commitment forms to tryouts everything is taken care of in a very specific manner.

Not much is left to chance.

"We do make sure everything has a time or place," Kern said. "It's not like when you played against all of your buddies. When we first got involved in Little League a couple of years ago, it became clear that there was a certain way to do things."

Luckily that kind of stuff is left to the league presidents and secretaries. The boys are still just playing ball.

"It meant a lot for me to get on this team," Moore said. "This was my first year of Little League and my team (the As) won the championship. Then I made the All-Star team. Coming over from club ball I didn't know what to expect but it was great having some of my old teammates with me."

The Ahwatukee Majors were on pace to make tonight's District 13 tournament semifinals after winning three of its first four games with the lone loss being a 18-14 slugfest against Chandler National North.

It was the team's immediate goal after missing out on a tie-breaker last year with a different roster of players.

The familiarity among the two club teams helped bring it together.

"We've won together before," said Burton, speaking of his Sandlot teammates. "Now we are winning with everyone else. We know we are hard to beat when we play as a team."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
  • Sports writer
  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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