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A new league in town

West Albany moves from Little League to Cal Ripken

— A change in youth baseball affiliation for one town league could start a recruiting battle with another league.

The West Albany Athletic Association is leaving Little League Inc. to join Cal Ripken Baseball, which will increase the territory that the newly-renamed South Colonie Youth Baseball League can draw from.

“By converting to Cal Ripken, we expanded our league from where we only had about one-third of the South Colonie [Central] School District to where we can have the whole district,” said South Colonie Youth Baseball president Brian Manion.

That puts South Colonie Youth Baseball in the same market for players as Colonie Little League, which tapped into the two-thirds of the South Colonie district West Albany couldn’t serve due to its Little League charter borders.

Colonie Little League president Frank Prevratil said he didn’t know the full extent of what West Albany’s move would mean for his league.

“I see them maybe taking some kids from us, but I don’t see it hurting us much,” Prevratil said. “And now that they’ve dismantled [their Little League affiliation], anyone in that West Albany district that wants to play for us can now do so. We’ve always wanted to give every kid who wants to play for us a chance to play.”

Manion said the decision to switch from Little League to Cal Ripken came down to the style of baseball played. Cal Ripken Baseball – named after the former Baltimore Orioles’ hall of fame shortstop – plays its games on a slightly larger infield than Little League. The pitcher’s mound is 50 feet away from home plate instead of 46 feet in Little League, and the base paths are 70 feet instead of 60 feet. Also, stealing and leading off a base are permitted in Cal Ripken Baseball.

“It just prepares them better for the next level of baseball,” said Manion.

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