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Summer Baseball League Yielding Dividends For Knights

When it comes to accumulating game experience, it’s hard to top the American Legion League during the summer months.

Castle head coach Rocky Fraticelli is among those who like the benefits of having his teams compete in the league. The Knights, who are in the midst of a baseball revival at the varsity level, currently have a pair of teams playing in ALL – a 17-and-under group and a 19-and-under unit.

“It’s a good league,” said Fraticelli, who led Castle’s varsity to a 9-3 mark this spring in the OIA Eastern Division. “We try to instill some competition, but it is more developmental – we’re using a real game as a learning experience. The league is relaxing, but once you get between the white lines, it’s competitive. We’re playing at least three games a week usually. You play teams like Punahou, Iolani, Campbell and Mililani. You want to play against good teams.”

That’s the case in 2013, for sure. Both Castle teams are playing a 20-game season, which includes some of the top programs in the state.

“It’s not the wins and losses – it is going out there in a game setting and practicing what they’ve been learning,” Fraticelli said. “We use this as a way of having scrimmages. As an example, a pitcher should also be working on the other parts of his game other than just pitching – like pickoff moves and fielding.”

What also makes ALL noteworthy is that it mirrors Major League Baseball as far as the rules they go by. As a result, players are allowed to use only wooden bats or wood-composite bats. (Aluminum bats are allowed during the ALL playoffs, which begin in early July.) “It’s a different game with the wooden bats,” Fraticelli admitted.

Castle’s 17-and-under team, which is playing as the Junior Knights this summer, currently has a roster of 14, among them four incoming freshmen. For all of the players, many of whom were on Castle’s JV last fall, there’s plenty of playing time, according to Fraticelli. “We play everybody. I’m seeing the improvement they’re making, although maybe they haven’t seen it yet,” he added with a laugh.

“Playing that many games, it’s a busy summer for them. On the off days, we also have workouts. We don’t necessarily call it practice.”

Among the Junior Knights’ players, eight currently are pitchers. “I would say our strength would be our pitching.

“They’re a nice group to work with.”

Fraticelli is assisting with the Junior Knights this summer along with Kerry Okumura. Brendon Kon serves as head coach. jackster.1969 @yahoo.com