For the first time in approximately a decade, the Nantucket Little League All Star Baseball Team is back and competing with little league teams on the Cape.
Earlier this month the team, which is made up of players ages 10-12 years old, traveled to the Cape for a tournament where they played several games despite just four practices beforehand. Coach and NLL board member Ryan Briard said the team performed well and that the return of this team bodes well for the future of baseball on Nantucket.
“The All-Star team coming back was in large part because of us having the right people in the right places,” Briard said. “We had a few new people join the little league board and from the beginning it was what can we do, what needs to be done for the kids. I was one of the coaches for the All-Stars and we asked ourselves what can we do to get these kids back to where they need to be and how can we get little league baseball back on the map on Nantucket.”
Sean Sullivan, Steve Williams, and Kenny Coffin are the other three coaches alongside Briard. The NLL is led by their President, Mike Horton, who is the principal at Cyrus Peirce Middle School.
The tournament began with the Whalers putting together a 10-run performance against a notoriously strong Sandwich Blue Knights. The game was under the lights and Briard said that setting had the kids “juiced up and ready to play.”
On Saturday, July 8, the Whalers took part in a doubleheader where they played Barnstable B in a nail-biter that was ultimately lost by the Whalers 4-3 in extra innings.
“It is great we could start doing this again now because there were six 6thgraders moving on who weren’t going to be able to play little league next year, so to give them that opportunity to play in this tournament before middle school is really special.”
The Whalers eventually got their rematch against Barnstable the next day, beating them 6-2 to advance to the tournament’s semifinals round, where they lost to Maplewood, the eventual champion.
Next up: Briard said NLL is currently working to plan a trip to Cooperstown – where the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum is famously located – for a summer tournament next year. Briard said he is working on getting prices together now and that it has been 11 years since Nantucket has sent a little league all-star team to Cooperstown.
“It is something special and I think every kid deserves to do that,” Briard said of a possible Cooperstown trip. “I don’t think there is any reason why we can’t at least fundraise, get the money and put the work in to get these kids to play in something special like that because I think it is going to build the brand of little league baseball here on Nantucket.”