Plainfield Little League coaches keep focus on learning and fun
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Plainfield - posted Mon., Jun. 20, 2011
The number-one-seeded Dodgers beat the Braves 7-4 on June 15 at the Plainfield Little League Park, but not before getting a scare from an unlikely playoff contender. The Braves, with four wins to their season, led 4-3 after three innings.
Coaches from both teams yelled out encouragement to their players during the game.
“That was a great cut,” Braves coach Ben Burdick said to one of his 9-year-old players after he swung at a fast pitch.
“No one thought we’d be here,” Braves coach Jeff Raymond reminded his players when the Dodgers went ahead in the fifth inning. Keep your heads up, he told them. Play each out.
In the end, the Dodgers pulled away from the Braves to keep their winning streak alive. The team has lost only one game all season.
“They had a great season,” coach Al Fontaine said. “They play well together. Every one of the kids participates in one way or another to help out the team. I’ve got a lot of kids who can throw pitches and strikes, and a lot of kids who can hit the ball well.”
Most of the players on the Dodgers team can pitch, though Fontaine does not put his younger players in against older batters. “I’d hate to see them take a line drive from an 11- or 12-year-old,” he said.
The boys range in age from 9 to 12. Some have played four years together in the league. Fontaine coached a lot of them in the farm system and drafted them into Little League. “For a lot of these kids, I’ve been their only coach,” he said. “We play a lot of defense. Defense wins game – that’s been my philosophy from day one.”
Dodgers coach Al Fontaine
Eight seasons coaching Little League
“I can’t say enough about the kids. It’s a great team. I love teaching,” Fontaine said. “This is all about the kids and all about teaching the kids about the game of baseball. It’s a fun game. We try to tell them what they’re doing wrong in the field, move them around, teach them about the positions and make sure they have fun.”