By MIKE SMITH
Westchester Academy Baseball grew by leaps and bounds this year, experiencing its biggest expansion since its inception.
According to WAB head Edwin Diaz, the organization thrived thanks to support from local communities.
The Academy, which fielded two teams in 2012, put seven teams on the field this summer, ranging from a 13U squad to the program’s elite 18U team. While players came in from all over the county, Diaz said it was really his close work with both the Harrison and Rye communities that led to the expansion.
“Rye and Harrison both wanted the best players to come in, they were seeing players leave the programs,” Diaz said. “So we came in and kind of took over those Babe Ruth summer programs and tried to bring the best competition back here.”
Due to the rapid expansion, Diaz was forced to wear many hats over the course of the summer, working with several of the teams while his partner Chad Carney handled the flagship 18U squad. Diaz rounded out the coaching ranks‑on the assistant level anyway‑with some former WAB players as Brian Lobel and Ryan Crawford both helped out with their old 18U team.
According to Diaz, while the older groups came in with the intention of catching the eye of college coaches, the younger teams served as more of a place where area ball players could hone their skills.
“At those younger ages, we’re still teaching the kids a lot of basics,” he said. “Some of the kids lack some fundamentals, so that’s what we really worked on.”
The WAB also hosted five tournaments this year, two in Harrison and three in Rye, although Diaz said they might reign that number in next year.
“I think it was ambitious,” he said. “We probably won’t host five again. Maybe two. I think we’d like to maybe travel a little more to other tournaments.”
And while WAB squads may not have taken home any tourney titles this year, Diaz said he’s pleased with the performance of his organization, especially the 18U team, which managed to secure a three-peat as Westchester Baseball Association champions.
“It definitely wasn’t easy for them, there are a lot of good teams in that league,” Diaz said. “Coach Carney did a really great job with that bunch. Across the board, I think we had some real top quality coaches. I’m very proud of the work we did.”