by RANDY GREGORY
Another season of baseball for the two teams comprised entirely of baseball players from Rockford drew to a close recently. Team Ram Black was basically a 16-and-under team filled with players expected to play at the varsity level for the Rams. Team Ram Orange was a 15-and-under team that featured players who will man the freshman and JV squads next year.
Team Ram Black ended up with an overall mark of 15 wins and six losses while playing an ambitious schedule that included top 18-and-under travel teams from around the state. They also played games at several beautiful venues that included the baseball stadiums at Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University. The team was coached by varsity assistant Steve Fusee with help from regular head coach Ian Hearn. Fusee handled logistics, scheduling and a lot of the game-time decisions, while Hearn cheerfully stepped aside over the course of the highly successful summer season.
“It was another good summer for Rockford baseball,” said Hearn. “It was nice to see the players develop, settle in and get used to competing against some outstanding teams. It was also a treat for them and the coaching staff to have had the opportunity to play at several beautiful college ballparks.”
Team Ram Orange was coached by freshman coach Lance Boehm. Junior varsity coach Steve Dengler also moved over to assist while letting Boehm take the reins. Sean O’Rourke offered his expertise while manning the fort for one tourney. The results weren’t quite as glowing for Team Ram Orange from a win-loss perspective, but it was a valuable learning tool for the younger Rams.
“We strongly feel a lot of the success we have achieved over the last several years can be attributed to our summer teams,” said Hearn. “We may even have to consider adding a third team soon because of the overwhelming numbers we had show up for some of our games. But that is something we will talk about next year.”
The sport of baseball has made tremendous inroads at Rockford High School over the last several seasons, and several Ram players will continue on playing into the fall. Hearn would like to see his players participate in different sports after the summer, but understands if they don’t.
“It would be nice to see a lot of the kids play other sports in the fall and winter,” said Hearn. “But I also support them if they decide not to. I just feel it would be nice to get some diversity athletically for them, but it is ultimately their decision.”