Enhancing individual baseball skills, and showcasing those skills in a game setting, are the objectives of a new youth baseball league that is based in Schenectady.
The Monarchs Fall Baseball League, sponsored by Kings Sports Training Center, kicked off its inaugural season last weekend at Central Park and will continue through October.
“We wanted to create a league that gave area high school players a chance to further develop and showcase their games since they didn’t have a spring school season and had limited opportunities in the summer because of COVID-19,” said Wil Bernacet, the league’s commissioner and general manager of Kings Sports Training Center in Schenectady.
The league consists of four teams and 54 players from 16 different Section II schools. The Mohawk River Pikes topped the Capital Regal Eagles in two games over the weekend, and the Adirondack Mountain Bucks split a pair with Hudson Valley Honey Badgers.
“We wanted to keep it affordable,” Bernacet said of the $199 registration fee per player. “And they’re getting a lot out of it beyond games.”
Exposure is one of those benefits. While college coaches are not allowed at this time to view games in person because of the NCAA-mandated dead period, games are being streamed on a delay on Kings Sports Training Center Facebook and YouTube page, and live in-game scoring can be followed on GameChanger. The Monarchs Fall Baseball League is also promoting its players, teams and results on Twitter and Instagram.
“For seniors looking at that last hurrah, stuff like this becomes very important,” Bernacet said. “The more eyes we can get on these kids, it will help.”
The Monarchs Fall Baseball League is following many of the same COVID-19 social distance protocols and safety measures that the Independent Collegiate Baseball League used earlier in the summer when it staged games at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam and at East Field in Glens Falls.
“The guys involved in that league did a great job,” Bernacet said.
The Monarchs Fall Baseball League was the brainchild of Bernacet and his son, Jordan, who is managing the Mohawk River Pikes. Jordan Bernacet is a former Schenectady High School and Dominican College standout currently serving as an assistant coach and strength/conditioning coordinator for the Bryant & Stratton College baseball team.
“We decided, let’s do this for the high school kids, and it took off,” Wil Bernacet said.
The 54 players ranging from freshmen to seniors participated in six evaluation days from late August to early Septembe,r and a draft was conducted afterward by the league’s managers, who also include Joe Altieri (Adirondack Mountain Bucks), Tom Sutera (Capital Regal Eagles) and Josh Colafemna (Hudson Valley Honey Badgers).
Each team has a 10-game regular-season schedule and the four will join for a postseason tournament, with all of that competition taking place at Central Park. The league’s top players (15-16U and 17-18U) will be chosen to participate in the October 10 Champions Events/PBR Columbus Day Clash at Central Park, and the October 24 King of Fall Brawl at Central Park.
“I think it will get bigger next year. We’ve already got team names for expansion teams,” Wil Bernacet said. “Our hope is to continue this every year.”
Reach Jim Schiltz at [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.