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After Teeball?
What's next, as your kids grow up ...
 
Futures

Teeball is just the beginning. As your children grow, there's a wealth of activities available in the Sydney baseball community.


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Hills Junior Baseball

Junior Club Baseball

Club baseball is played within the Hills region in three age-groups:- U/12, U/14 and U/16. The clubs involved are the same ones that run TeeBall, so children can simply move up into a baseball team as they grow, without the hassle of changing clubs or buying new uniforms.


Competitions are graded. Each club runs trials before the season and grades players into a team of others at a similar standard of ability and experience. There are three grades in each age-group.

U/12 and U/14 competitions (we call them "conferences") are played to slightly modified rules and on a smaller field, both for protection of young arms and to make the game faster and more enjoyable. By the time the kids reach U/16, they're playing to adult rules and on a full-sized diamond.

The main (summer) Competitions run from September to March each year, and involve a Playoff series toward the end where the top four teams in each conference battle it out to become the season champions. Games are mainly played on Saturday mornings, except the high-grade U/16 teams, who play on Friday nights.


Junior Baseball is also played in winter in Hills:- a competition not offered by anyone else in Sydney. It's available from April to August each year, in U/13, U/15 and U/17 age groups.

Hills Little League

In the 2007-8 season, Hills adopted the national Little League game format. This competition runs midweek during January, in the Christmas school holidays, and is open to all players aged 10-12 as of April 30.


Unlike our weekend competitions, it is not based on clubs. Instead, players are split into teams of roughly equal strength and then play each other. At the conclusion of the season, 28 players are selected for two Hills Tournament teams which compete in the NSW Championships. From there, they have a chance to progress to the National level: into the regional tournament in Asia: and perhaps as far as Williamsport in the USA to contest the LL World Series.

In 2007-8, the Hills North team won both the NSW and Australian tournaments, and played in Hong Kong in August 2008.



Trent Oeltjen with a development player

Hills Development

Players aged 9 and above in the club system are identified and are invited to development programmes which run both summer and winter:- generally one night a week and on Sunday mornings.


These programmes, acknowledged as being among the best in the country, are aimed at identifying and developing potential future representative and elite players. Each session runs for a couple of hours a week, and they focus on fundamentals, advanced techniques and fitness.

We also run holiday clinics in the July, October and Christmas school vacations, which are open to all players.


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Baseball NSW
Junior Reps

District Representative Competitions

A player in the U/12 age group will get his or her first taste of representative play here.

Hills is one of seven regional baseball associations in the Sydney basin, and all of us play a representative season against each other in all three age-groups.


Teams play almost every Sunday on a home & away basis, and competition finishes with a Playoff Weekend just before Christmas.

Hills holds open trials in late July and early August each year, for players who will register at a Hills-affiliated club in the coming summer season. These trials will generally go for three or four weekends, and are both intense and, for some, stressful. However, a selection trial process is the way that athletes are chosen for all forms of high-level sport, and players who want to participate will be exposed to this type of process at some stage. Our selectors do their best to support all players, successful or not, and club coaches and administrators are always there for the children too.

The teams will start training immediately, and the rep season goes from September to December, parallel with club competitions. Training is generally one night a week and Saturday afternoons.

Players who make these teams generally have a terrific experience, playing their chosen sport with and against their peers in a competitive framework. Of course, there are winners and losers, but both have a wonderful time and often build lifelong friendships.

Hills have been extraordinarily successful in these competitions. In U/12, we have won 10 times from 21 attempts, just ahead of Manly on 7 from 21, who are also well known for their young-age development work.

In the U/14 age-group, we are undisputed masters, with 17 wins from 26 attempts, including a string of 9 wins in succession in the late eighties and early nineties.


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Baseball NSW

  NSW State Reps

The Australian Baseball Federation runs the National Junior Championships each year, at venues such as Lismore, Perth, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. The events cover U/14, U/16 and U/18 age-groups. This is the level to which most junior players aspire.


State Teams are selected by NSW Baseball during trials at Blacktown Olympic Park from September onwards. Once the teams are selected in October, they go into a training programme that involves two or three sessions per week until late December. The Nationals are played in January.

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CHS Baseball

School Baseball

Run under the guidance of Baseball NSW, there is a regional schools-based competition scheduled as a tournament format in autumn each year.


Schools in different regions play each other for the right to challenge for a place in the Combined High Schools event, culminating in a playoff between the respective champions of the Public and Independent high school regions. Winners progress to the National Championships in April/May.


Australian
Schoolboys

  National Schools Competition

The next step up from the NSW Schools programme is selection in the Australian Schoolboys team, which travels overseas each year in September. It is selected after the National Schoolboys Championships, and in 2005 the team played in South Africa. There were four kids from NSW selected in 2005.



NSW Junior Baseball League

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International Boys Nankyu Baseball Association

  The IBA International Programme

Hills is a proud member of the NSW Junior Baseball League. The NSWJBL administers the Sydney component of an international organisation that promotes tournaments among member countries.

Over the past ten years, over two hundred Hills children have toured countries such as Japan, Taiwan, the Phillipines, Singapore, Europe, Mexico and the USA, playing in both week-long tournaments and friendlies against local teams. Around 30 Hills children participate each year. The tours are a tremendous cultural experience as well as a chance to play elite baseball at international standard. For many of these kids, this is the highest level of competition that they will play in their careers.


Costs are kept to a minimum through billeting, bulk airfare purchase and economies of scale in other expenses.

We also host overseas teams visiting us in July and August each year.

The teams are selected from triallists who come from all over Sydney, and are usually of a very high standard. Trials are generally run late in the summer season:- around February and March.


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NSW Institute of Sport

  NSW Elite Development

The NSWIS Baseball Program used to assist athletes to achieve state and national representation. Each year, several NSWIS athletes went on to sign professional contracts with US Major League teams and receive college scholarships.


That all changed in 2008 when baseball was removed as an Olympic sport. Until something changes, BNSW will continue to fund elite development through its High Performance Division, without the previous level of financial support from the NSW or Australian governments.

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Major League Baseball
Australian Academy Program

  ABF MLBAAP Program

The seven week MLBAAP player development camp is usually held at the Radisson Resort in Palm Meadows on Queensland's Gold Coast. Over 80 players will be exposed to intensive baseball training 6 days a week under the direction of some of the best coaches Australia has to offer.


Its primary function is to prepare and then select Australia's AA and AAA teams to participate in World Championship tournaments run by the International Baseball Federation.

Of these 80 players, about 30 are AA candidates, 15 or so mature players, and the balance are candidates in the AAA age-group.


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Australian Baseball Federation

  Elite Adult Baseball

The Claxton Shield is the trophy awarded to the state that wins the annual National Senior competition. It is due to be replaced with a new National competition in 2010 (See below).


Until 2009/10, the competition was a tournament format played at Blacktown Olympic Park in January each year. Players in these teams are a mix of high-level youngsters on their way up, college players who are in development in the farm system of the US major leagues, contracted professionals, and ex-professionals who can still offer much to the sport locally.

An U/23 National tournament has also been recently introduced, specifically for non-professionals and for players who are outside the US college system. This gives elite players, who nevertheless do not choose a career in baseball, to showcase their skills.

Also, the National Women's Baseball Championships are held each year. See the section on Women's Baseball below.


  The ABL

In November 2010, The Australian Baseball League kicked off again after an absence of a decade. It will replace the Claxton Shield.


This is a state-based National competition involving professional players in the northern winter. It will run with about 40 games from November to February, of which about half will be NSW "home" games played at BOP.
Our team is the Sydney Blue Sox, which has both local players and some "imports" from the US professional leagues:- sent "Down Under" to hone their skills in the off-season.

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Major League Baseball

  Professional Baseball

Professional baseball, although played in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, South America and elsewhere, is really regarded as having its home in the USA. The Major League Baseball organisation is the controlling body.


30 teams compete in a 162-game season from April to October, culminating in the World Series. A roster of 25 players for each team (40 from September on) means that there are between 750 and 1,200 athletes participating in "the big Leagues" at any one time. However, there are dozens of minor leagues scattered around the country:- some affiliated with Major League clubs and some not. As many as ten thousand players in the US make a living out of playing baseball. Click here to see the structure of the Majors

At the top of the tree, as with many sports, salaries are phenomenal:- up to US$25million per season. Even a very average player would expect to be paid a seven-figure sum each year.


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Sydney Metropolitan Baseball League

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Pacific Coast

  Social Baseball in Sydney

Social baseball in Sydney is played in several different leagues. Most have a geographical focus. The Hills area is serviced by the Sydney Metropolitan Baseball League and the Pacific Coast League.

Games are generally played on Saturday afternoons or Sunday, and are time limited to a couple of hours, unlike the elite form of the game which is played to an innings limit.

Thousands of people, both men and women, choose to spend part of their weekend playing a sport than can be as much fun as you like, as relaxing as you like, or as challenging as you like. All standards are catered for, including rank beginners through to ex-professionals who have retired from elite competition.


Junior players are eligible to participate once they turn 14.

Sydney Metro also runs a Masters Weekend in June, and various leagues around the country run invitational and open tournaments throughout the year.


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Summer State League

Sydney Winter
 League

  Grade Baseball in Sydney

"Grade" baseball is the local elite form of the sport, and is administered by the Major League Committee of Baseball NSW in summer, and by the Sydney Winter Baseball League in winter.

In the summer season, about ten clubs compete in four grades:- 1st, 2nd, 3rd and U/18.

In winter, nine clubs compete in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade.


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Sydney Women's Baseball League

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NSW Women's Baseball League

  Women's Baseball

Competitions specifically for women are enjoying solid growth as the sport rapidly becomes more popular. There are now two leagues in Sydney catering only for women, run by Baseball NSW and the Sydney Women's Baseball League respectively. Both NSW and Australian teams are selected and play both in national and international tournaments specifically for women.

This interest is being replicated in the junior ranks, where Baseball NSW has introduced development programmes in winter for both women and girls.


Within Hills Juniors, although we have no specific girls' league, we do have teams that are made up largely of girls. Baulkham Hills fielded our first all-girl's team in 2006, in the U/12 age-group, and they did well enough to make the finals.
 
As they grow ...

TeeBall is a great sport for kids to play up to 10 or 12 years of age, but where do they go after that?

The natural progression is through the sport of Baseball, enjoyed by both men and women across Australia.

There are about 50,000 active players, participating in everything from social weekend games to elite competitions in international fixtures including (until recently) the Olympics. Australia has also contributed hundreds of players to the American professional arm of the sport, and we have a few who have reached the dizzy heights of the US Major Leagues.

Hang on !
We're getting ahead of ourselves ...


Other Game Formats

Modball

Modball is an advanced form of TeeBall, played to basically the same rules, with one exception:- the tee is replaced by a Pitching Coach who throws the ball from about 12-13 metres. Hills offer this version of the game for the U/10 age-group, as a natural transition from TeeBall to baseball (which is played at U/12 and older).

The Pitching Coach will generally be a parent of one of the team members, although some clubs recruit their older teenage players to help out. The term "coach" is a little misleading, because the sole duty of this person is to throw strikes to the batter:- they don't need to know anything about the game and don't need to "coach" the kids as such.

ModBall is recommended for those children who already have a season or two of TeeBall under their belts. It keeps the sport interesting by giving the children a new experience (hitting a moving ball) without introducing the stress of pitching strikes:- something that only a small number of players can do at 8 or 9 years of age.

Machine Pitch

You may have heard of a "Zooka" machine, or other brand of pitching machine used in younger age-groups instead of an adult pitcher.

This form of Modball is played in various regions of Sydney:- it is up to individual districts whether they adopt it or not. At Hills, we consider this issue every couple of years, but for now prefer to stick with a parent or teenage pitcher instead of a machine. We find that the variations in the pitches thrown by a real person (a machine throws exactly the same pitch, every time) develops better hitting techniques. Because the batter never knows whether the Pitching Coach will throw a strike or a ball, it also teaches young hitters to see the ball earlier (out of the pitcher's hand) instead of focusing on it when it comes through the strike zone. Again, this is a valuable skill for later.


Hills Rep Record

State Cup Champions
Years Under 12 Under 14
1984 - 1985   Manly
1985 - 1986   Manly
1986 - 1987   Newcastle
1987 - 1988   Hills
1988 - 1989   Hills
1989 - 1990 Bankstown Hills
1990 - 1991 Manly Hills
1991 - 1992 Hills Hills
1992 - 1993 Central Coast Hills
1993 - 1994 Hills Hills
1994 - 1995 Hills Hills
1995 - 1996 Manly Hills
1996 - 1997 Hills Newcastle
1997 - 1998 Manly Hills
1998 - 1999 Manly Cronulla
1999 - 2000 Hills Hills
2000 - 2001 Hills Hills
2001 - 2002 Manly Hills
2002 - 2003 Manly Hills
2003 - 2004 Hills Cronulla
2004 - 2005 Manly Ryde
2005 - 2006 Hills Hills
2006 - 2007 Hills Ryde
2007 - 2008 Cronulla Hills
2008 - 2009 Ryde Hills
2009 - 2010 Hills Cronulla
2010 - 2011 Hills Ryde
2011 - 2012 Manly ??
2012 - 2013 Macarthur Cronulla

Tournaments

City v Country Reps

The culmination of the Rep season around Easter each year is the City v Country Shield.

The top two Sydney teams play the top two teams from Regional NSW over one weekend. In the inaugural tournament in 2006, Hills won both U/12 and U/14 events, and did not contest the U/16s.

NOTE: This tournament is not on the calendar for 2010/2011.


Champion of Champions

After playing in their home Associations through the summer season, the Minor Premiers in the U/12, U/14 and U/16 age-groups play an invitational tournament in late March.

This tournament ran in 2008 for the first time at Kelso, involving teams from all eight Junior Baseball Associations in Sydney.

In 2009, Baulkham Hills pulled off a rare trifecta:- winning all three age-groups. That's an achievement that might never be repeated by anyone, not even from Hills.


Pacific Friendship Tournament

The Pacific Friendship Junior Baseball Tournament is played in August each year, around the Asia-Pacific Region. In 2007, it was held in Sydney.

This is a high-level tournament for players aged 14 and 15, and attracts teams from many countries in the region.

Special Opportunities

Two events dominate the international calendar for the very young superstars of the future.

wpe16.jpg (2969 bytes) Cal Ripken Word Series

The Cal Ripken World Series is a tournament played in Aberdeen [Maryland, USA] among national teams of 11 and 12 year-olds from all over the world.

Australia has participated since the inception of the fixture in 2000.

NSW had provided 18 players out of the 90 who have participated since this event started. Hills have been extraordinarily successful in providing 7 of those 18, which is a testament to the development techniques we use, and the commitment and talent of our players (all numbers current as of 2008). This was acknowledged most recently when Wayne Finney, a long-time Hills coach, was named in the management staff for Australia's 2005 campaign.


wpe13.jpg (3320 bytes) World Children's Baseball Fair

The World Children's Baseball Fair is held every year.

Its goal is to promote baseball and to provide an opportunity to develop international friendship, goodwill, and cultural understanding among the youth of the world.

This has been a successful event since 1990. The children attend morning baseball clinics instructed by specially appointed coaches, while each afternoon and evening they partake in cultural and recreational activities to further enhance cultural understanding and appreciation.

It isn't strictly a national team, as only a handful of children are invited from each country, but those who are invited come away with a unique experience.


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Flintoff & Dunn
A local website that tracks Australians playing in the US Major Leagues


Our Country Cousins

NSW Country Baseball has run successfully forever, providing promotion of the sport and an excellent administrative framework across regional NSW.

From Central Coast north to the Queensland border, from Illawarra south to the Victorian border, and from Lithgow west to the middle of nowhere, CBNSW delivers first-class services to over 70 clubs in 11 regional associations.

Should you find yourself moving out of the Sydney Metropolitan area, but still wanting to maintain involvement with TeeBall and baseball, CBNSW has you covered.


Volunteers - Lifeblood of baseball

The backbone of any junior sporting organisation is its volunteers, and that is no different in baseball. The sport simply couldn't function without them.

Although most volunteers have children involved, there are a significant number who stay on after their children grow up, pouring thousands of hours into coaching, administration, umpiring, training and development. Hundreds more are ex-players, with or without children, and they contribute hugely to the continuation of baseball as a vibrant sport.

Their experience is beyond value. For the most part they are genuinely keen to pass it on, and like nothing more than to have a parent come up and offer to help out, or learn how to coach or umpire a game.

We urge every single TeeBall parent to consider getting involved as a volunteer. The individual time commitment is minimal if enough people step up to the plate, and the reward from being actively involved when your child takes a great catch, or hits a long ball, or wins a trophy, is huge.


Olympic Baseball?

The Australian Olympic squad is arguably the pinnacle of achievement for an amateur player. Or it was, anyway.

Our team won silver in Athens in 2004, but sadly couldn't match that in 2008.

In July 2005, the IOC downgraded baseball (and softball) for the 2012 London games, and as a result, baseball will no longer be an Olympic sport. Nevertheless, our sport is working hard to get reinstated by 2020.

The closest thing to a replacement event seems set to be the World Baseball Classic, a 16-nation tournament held in March and run jointly by MLB, MLBPA and the IBAF. It will be held {roughly} biennially.


Blacktown International Sports Park

[Formerly Blacktown Olympic Park]

BISP is a sports and leisure venue with plenty on offer!

The world class softball, baseball and athletics facilities were developed as significant playing and training venues for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and have gone on to host a variety of international, national, state, regional and local events ever since.

 

Copyright Hills Junior Baseball Association Inc. All rights reserved