ECBL gives coaches chance to evaluate future varsity talent
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 14, 2013 1:48 PM
The origins of the infamous quote "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" aren't entirely known. Those legendary words are often attributed to former UCLA football coach Henry Russell as well as the late Vince Lombardi.
What is known is that those immortal words don't always apply to the Eastern Carolina Baseball League. Sure, every team in the ECBL approaches each game with the goal of winning.
However, with the league made up largely of junior varsity players and players with a year or less of varsity experience, every game is an opportunity to make an impression. With most ECBL coaching staffs comprised of varsity or junior varsity head coaches and assistants, every at-bat, ground ball and stolen base is carefully evaluated.
The ability for players short on varsity experience to face pitchers who have toed the rubber in critical varsity contests is invaluable. The ECBL provides sluggers the chance to learn to make adjustments at the plate and to execute in key situations they'll possibly face in a varsity uniform.
Meanwhile, hurlers who need to polish their craft on the mound can log important innings in the ECBL. With quality arms always at a premium, the chance to get noticed by a varsity head coach during the summer is one benefit of the ECBL.
Two schools competing in the ECBL, Charles B. Aycock and North Lenoir, are fielding two teams. Assembling two squads gives coaches the opportunity to analyze players closely and maximize playing time while looking ahead to next spring.
"That's why we went with two teams so we could ask more players to come out this summer," C.B. Aycock White head coach Nelson Cunningham said. "All these kids always want a shot to play varsity ball and that's the whole thing for us being out here.
"Having Coach (Charles) Davis out here puts a little more competition in it. The only reason we're out here is so they can play on Friday night under the lights."
The ECBL is open to eighth graders and the summer can serve as a critical learning experience for younger players. Getting a taste of high school baseball can be pivotal for talented, but raw players right out of middle school. A brief, but valuable 20-game sample size of what to expect on a high school diamond can help instill confidence in a player hoping to earn a spot on a JV or varsity squad next season.
By next spring few people will remember which team finished with the best record in the inaugural season of the ECBL. What they will notice, however, is who made a varsity roster.
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