It has been two years since the Cheney Summerhawks 15U and 17U baseball teams withdrew from the American Legion system.
For the second season, the 17U team played an independent schedule, playing against various club and American Legion teams from Washington and Idaho, and competing in three tournaments. Cheney finished with a 13-15 record and ended the season on a high note after they finished second in the Smash N’ Splash tournament in Moses Lake.
The 15U squad competed in the Spokane Indians Youth Baseball program for the second year and finished 0-6 in the regular season.
The purpose of the summer baseball program is to help prepare athletes for the Cheney High School baseball spring season. Cheney High School head baseball coach Mike Cagle said this summer season — particularly for the 17U team — has allowed players many opportunities to play and face competition to help prepare them for the 2A schools Cheney will play in the spring.
“Kids like the Berman twins (Jake and Nick) and Johnny Owings were able to get that exposure on the field,” Cagle said. “They’ll have a good chance to contribute next season.”
Cagle added that other than a couple of canceled games, this years’ 17U schedule went well.
Bill Peabody, of the Cheney Baseball Association (CBA), explained that the main reason Cheney withdrew from American Legion two years ago was because many of the players participate in Blackhawks athletic summer camps, which take place from late May to the middle of June, which is when American Legion plays its regular season.
“The nice thing about the Spokane Indians schedule and (the 17U) independent schedule is they do not come in conflict with Cheney High School sports camps,” Peabody said.
Peabody said the only downside to the 17U team playing an independent schedule was they do not have an end goal to play for, like a league championship.
“It would be something to help keep players (motivated) in the season,” Peabody said. “They like going to tournaments and playing together.”
Cagle added that having a league-like schedule with a title game at the end would put some pressure on players.
Peabody said working with the Spokane Indians was a little difficult because of schedule changes during the season. According to Cagle, some of the teams in the 15U league, such as the Spokane Clash and Expos, play in other tournaments, which prompted the schedule changes from the league.
One aspect of the summer program that Cagle is happy about is the coaching. He praised 17U head coach Austin Sharp, assistant coach Riley Roberts and 15U coach Glenn Chamberlain for leading the teams.
“We’ve been lucky,” Cagle added. “Bill has also done a great job of managing things.”
As for the future, Peabody said the CBA is discussing the direction for next summer, including setting up winter workouts for players, deciding whether or not the 15U team will play in the Spokane Indians program and possibly establishing some type of league schedule for the 17U team.
“The CBA will decide on what to do, based on experience and what’s best for the summer program,” Peabody said.