Feb 16, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Staff WriterRiverton will feature a 13-15 age group this season.
When young baseball players are between the ages of 13-15, it's a critical time in the development process.
It's the time when the game becomes more serious for those players with a desire to excel at a higher level, which means the platform on which one performs is crucial to the continuing improvement curve.
In Riverton in seasons past, that meant players moving from Little League to the Babe Ruth ranks, then moving on to American Legion.
Definitely a viable avenue, but one which required players to perform within three different organizations in only a few years time, as opposed to being under one umbrella as they move up the baseball ladder.
However, this spring will bring something new to the Riverton youth baseball landscape, as Little League will field a division for 13-15-year-olds.
According to Riverton Little League president Mark Reinig, the new league will help to ease the transition to the older age group.
"We've been talking about this for a few years," said Reinig. "It's the direction the entire state is going. Riverton needs to follow what other places are doing."
Reinig said the ultimate goal is to provide a proper pipeline of talent to the next level.
"It's important for all of the divisions to be competitive," he said. "We want Little League to get kids ready for Legion."
Over the years, Babe Ruth has been the bridge between Little League and American Legion baseball in Riverton, but that has been changing around Wyoming as Legion programs have added "B" squads to bolster their depth and in doing so, providing a place for players who aren't yet ready for the "A" side, said Reinig.
"Babe Ruth has been dying out because of what the Legion teams have been doing," he said. "Because that's where they'll get better baseball and coaching."
Reinig recognized the need to remedy a shortage of talent once players approach high-school age, when other sports infringe on baseball with off-season camps.
"There seems to be a big dropoff in participation at a certain age," he said. "Sometimes, 15-year-olds have to make choices as far a other sports are concerned."
The goal is to eventually have two divisions spanning the 13-15 age group, but for now, there will be only one.
Building a winning tradition in American Legion is the vision Reinig and his fellow board members have, he said.
"We want to build a legacy," said Reinig. "If you're winning at the Legion level and start seeing kids go off to play in college, more players will want to be a part of it."
Riverton Little League will begin its registration on Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Radio Shack on Federal Avenue. Additional registration following the initial event can be done through "R" Recreation. Cost is $45 for baseball and $35 for t-ball. Players new to the program must provide a birth certificate upon registration.
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