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From Left Field

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By The Staff

C'mon get rhythm

Remember the days before free agency, when professional athletics were pretty much slaves to whatever team owned them? Now while a lot of that old way of doing business is now looked down upon, it also had its good points, as hard as that may be to believe.

Because these teams kept a core group of players for a long period of time, they created a certain chemistry that allow many of these teams to excel and win championships. These were the “dynasty” teams of the past. Now, players change teams like they change their socks, and there’s no rhythm established. That’s why it’s hard for some teams to win a championship, let alone back-to-back titles.

The same can be said for how difficult it must be to maintain a core group of players on the high school or even college level. As soon as some players reach the top of their game, they graduate, and it creates a revolving door of new faces that now must fill those roles on the team.

The St. Catharine Patriots have recently made the move to a four-year college, and the programs are just now reaping the benefits of having juniors and seniors on their squads. Instead of knowing their players only two years, the players can mature and get more experience on the college level.

The 2008 Bat Pats were limited to just freshmen and sophomores. Last year, the Patriots fielded 13 juniors on their way to a national championship. This coming season, Luther Bramblett’s team will feature 14 seniors and 10 juniors. That’s 24 players who wouldn’t have played two years ago.

Because these 14 seniors will have two extra years of playing time under their belts, they will gain valuable knowledge, not only as a team, but on an individual level, as well.

Now the downside is that with 24 players staying on the team, the freshmen and sophomores may not get that much time on the varsity level. But because the Patriots can keep these players around for a longer time, it has its benefits.

Did the Bat Pats win last year because they fielded 13 seasoned juniors? How much better could they be next year?

There’s something to be said for keeping a core of players together. They have time to develop their style and rhythm. Sure, talent plays a role, too, but when you see the same teammates on a consistent basis, it’s like becoming one big living entity. You don’t have just a collection of individuals, you have a team.