This new baseball camp also incorporates 'rock, paper, scissors'

By Angie Hilsman | Jul 17, 2017
Photo by: Angie Hilsman Rylie Dutra, 7, and Olivia Araujo, 8, ready for a stickball match.

Eight-year-old Olivia Araujo stepped up to the plate. With a stick in her hand, she batted a tennis ball across the infield. She ended the play sliding into second base.

It's Araujo's first week participating in the Buzzard Bay Athletics' baseball camp, but with three years of baseball under her belt, she's catching on quickly.

"We've been learning a lot of stuff. You learn how to keep the ball in front of you to avoid runs scored," she said.

"I learned how to keep my eyes on the ball and watch it hit the bat," chimed in Matt Dore, 13.

Owner Mark Cruz launched Buzzards Bay Athletics this summer with 46 kids, ages six to 14, participating in its first week-long baseball camp July 26-30. Cruz and 55 more players gathered at Crapo Fields on July 17 to kickstart the second such camp.

"What we wanted to do was bring fundamental baseball camps to the town of Dartmouth," said Cruz. "We wanted a place where they can play baseball with their friends."

Both he and co-owner Scott Dutra grew up playing baseball and basketball with the Dartmouth Youth Activities Association (DYAA), Cruz said. However, unlike the DYAA, the camps are open to neighboring towns like Westport and New Bedford.

The camp is broken down into four divisions (Tee-ball, Junior, Little League, and Pony League) to accommodate different ages and skill levels, said Cruz. Mornings are focused on hitting and fielding practice, but players get to socialize in the afternoons with scrimmages and stickball — a softer version of baseball which utilizes a tennis ball and batting stick.

"Week one, I was very drill oriented. Week two, we're playing more games in the afternoon," said Cruz, explaining how the program has shifted based on players' feedback. Cruz said scrimmages let players apply what they've learned.

Kids are also encouraged to experiment. For example, they can try switch-hitting (batting lefty if you're a righty, and vice versa), and any disputes (whether it be over an umpire's call, or who gets to be the home team) are solved via a game of "rock, paper, scissors."

"The happiest moment I have is at the end-of-day scrimmages. I like to sit up on the hill and watch the kids totally have fun," he said.

Every Friday, Cruz holds what he calls the "Baseball Olympics," a combination of six competitions. Instead of trophies, winners get free ice cream, he said.

Cruz said he hopes to expand the camps to include lacrosse next year. He's also considering soccer camps, and hosting programs during school vacations.

For more information on the sports camps, go to buzzardsbayathletics.com, or visit facebook.com/BuzzardsBayAthletics.

Caleb Gagne,7, Ben Bernier, 9, Ben Garcia, 8, and Connor McLain, 6, catch their breath in the dugout. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Owen Webster, 9, readies at first base as a batter steps up to the plate. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Olivia Araujo, 8, whacks the ball during a scrimmage: (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Olivia Araujo, 8, takes off running after hitting the ball. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Chance Simmons, 8, slides into home plate. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Matthew George makes the play at third base. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Matthew Downs, 9, takes off running from second base. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Tenley Simmons, 6, said she's "a really good hitter." (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Nicholas Frias, 7, makes the catch. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Justin Correia, 8, fields the ball. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Cayden Andre, 6, awaits the pitch. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Markos Droukas, 5, runs to first base. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Owner and coach Mark Cruz uses a pitching machine to lob balls to the players. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Aiden Taffe, 14, hits the ball. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Aidan Cruz and Jacob Blatchford, both 10, demonstrate how disputes are settled. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.