MARIETTA, Ga. – The WWBA National Championship is one of the largest tournaments in the country each summer and is filled with hundreds of teams all competing for a chance to win a championship. Some teams recruit players to increase their odds of success, while other teams are made up of players who have played together for years.
One of the more intriguing teams this week is the Nor’Easters Runbirds, based out of Tewksbury, Massachusetts and led by Tim Daneau. The Runbirds are a team that is filled with players who have been playing with one another for years and have the same mindset to win as a team.
The Runbirds have had a completely different experience than the majority of teams participating in this week’s tournament because they are from the North, a region of the country that has been hit hard due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This is the team’s first tournament of the year, which is extremely impressive given that they are undefeated in pool play thus far. Coach Daneau says his team was not able to do anything except play in three scrimmage games. The players have not seen live pitching at this skill level in over six months and the pitchers were understandably lacking in conditioning.
“The bats and pitching were a little behind in our first scrimmage games,” said Coach Daneau. “I feel like we are very close to where we need to be from a hitting and pitching standpoint.”
The Runbirds currently have 12 players on their roster who are committed to play college ball. Some of the colleges that the players are committed to include the University of Virginia, Notre Dame, UMass, Georgetown University, and others. At 17 years old, having nearly all of the players decide on where they want to play college ball is an accomplishment. He attributed the commitments to the culture that has been around the New England Nor'Esters organization, which is known for producing talented players who know the game of baseball and are willing to do what it takes for the team to win.
“It’s really just a testament to our players,” said Coach Daneau. “These kids love playing for one another and really understand what it means when we tell them to take a team approach, not an individual approach.”
Coach Daneau acknowledges that his players are becoming men and growing up in the real world. His staff focuses on teaching things to his players that are applicable on the field and in a real-world setting. He mentioned that he is a big “learn from mistakes” type of coach, because that makes it easier for him to see which of his players are willing to get better.
“We really try to just get the most out of our players,” said Coach Daneau. “We want them to understand that a lot of things they are taught on the field will help them in life.”
The team has not lost a game in their short season so far and Coach Daneau says his pitching staff has been outstanding. He mentioned that every pitcher that he has called on has answered the bell. The staff has given up only seven runs in their first four games. In their abbreviated season, Coach Daneau says his players all have specific aspects they need to work on, but as a team, they are focusing on timely hits, being aggressive and not leaving runners on base.
“We have left four guys on at third with one out this week,” said Coach Daneau. “Our pitching has been unbelievable; we just need to come up with better at bats when we have an opportunity to score a run.”
This team is filled with speedy and aggressive runners, something that is an important factor in the Runbirds’ success. The players are always trying to move the runner over for the success of the team. Coach Daneau says once he gets a runner on, they do everything they can to get him over to the next base.
“We are an aggressive organization as a whole,” said Coach Daneau. “It makes it so much easier to be aggressive because of the selfless attitudes of our players.”
Some of the top names in the 2021 class on this roster include:
1. Evan Blanco: #1 overall player in MA; University of Virginia Commit; LHP
2. Matt Travisano: #3 overall player in MA; University of Pittsburgh Commit; SS
3. Jack Penney: #11 overall player in MA; Notre Dame Commit; SS/2B
4. Matthew Sapienza: #35 overall player in MA; Georgetown University Commit; RHP
5. Sam Hill: #26 overall player in MA; UMass Commit; 3B
Coach Daneau also wanted to list a few names of players who are not committed yet but will be soon:
“Brady Smolinski, Ronnie Shamus, Domenic Crocenzi are all players who should be committing soon. These three play the game the right way and have great baseball IQ.”
Coach Daneau has been coaching for a long time and says it is so much fun and rewarding to watch his players win ball games. They enjoy playing and he loves the way each of his players have their teammates’ backs and would do anything for them. He sees the friendships and bonds created throughout the years, which makes him very happy.
The Nor’Easters Runbirds have caught plenty of attention after winning their first four games of pool play. They look to finish up pool play undefeated and get rewarded with a high seed for bracket play, which begins Wednesday, June 22nd.