Middle School Age Program


In an attempt to answer some frequent questions concerning the SPFBL 7th/8th Grade Middle School program, we have assembled this list of  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the program.

Q:  What is the SPFBL 7th/8th Grade Middle School Baseball program?

A:  The SPFBL 7th/8th Grade Middle School Baseball program came about when the middle school athletic programs were cut from the school budget. In an attempt to keep the program alive, SPFBL stepped up to start a replacement program.  There are two (2) 7th/8th Grade Middle School-age teams run by independent paid managers, and playing in a very competitive league against other middle school baseball programs.

Q:  What is the time commitment for the Middle School Baseball program.

A:  Middle School Baseball is a serious commitment.  Practices for the Middle School teams are normally 4-5 days per week, during the week after school.  Once games start, they are also during the week and after school.  It should be noted that while playing both Middle School and Senior Division (house league) makes for a lot of baseball, the two commitments do not conflict with each other and many players choose to play both.

Q:  Who is eligible for the Middle School Baseball program.  Are there tryouts?

A:  All 7th & 8th graders in Scotch Plains and Fanwood are eligible.  Yes, there are tryouts.  They are scheduled for Presidents Day, Monday February 15th.  More information on the tryout schedule is available at www.spfbaseballleague.org.

Q: How many teams will there be?  How will they be chosen?

A:  Two (2) teams are planned to compete in the Middle School league.  The result of the tryouts will dictate which ballplayers are chosen.  The intent is to create two (2) relatively even teams.  They will NOT be broken up by middle school, rather the two (2) teams will be chosen as evenly as possible, and both will compete in league play against other middle school programs. IN ADDITION, there will be additional teams formed at the 13U and 14U level.  The formation of these teams will be based on the tryout turnout, talent pool level after the middle school teams are selected.

Q: When and where are the tryouts?

A: Tryouts are Monday, February 16th, 2014 from 9am to 1:30pm at the Branchburg Sports Complex  exact time for your ballplayer is listed above, the tryouts are organized by grade.  Figure on needing to be there 15 minutes early, and stay for the full tryout block for your grade.  Directions to the Branchburg facility are available on the Branchburg Sports Complex website (click here). 

Q:  Do I have to register online for the Senior Division to tryout?  Or can my ballplayer just show up?

A: You cant just show up!!  You must register and pay for the SENIOR DIVISION, plus register for the SPFBL 7th/8th Grade Middle School tryout to be eligible to tryout.

Q:  So I register for the Senior Division for $150.  My ballplayer tries out for the SPFBL Middle School program and makes a team.  How much more money do I owe to play?

A: The cost of the Middle School program will be approximately $495.00, with uniforms handled separately. The Middle School cost includes participation in the Senior division as well.   If your ballplayer makes a travel team, the cost will be approximately $400.00 plus uniform, and that would likewise include Senior division.

Q:  If my ballplayer makes the SPFBL Middle School or travel team, do I have to play Senior Division house league also?  What about any spring 13U/14U programs that might be made available?

A: This year SPFBL is requiring participation in the Senior division so that middle school age travel teams are Babe Ruth tournament eligible.  This is a Babe Ruth requirement, similar to how the majority of surrounding towns handle their middle school baseball programs, and done in conjunction with the SPFHS baseball program.  Note that there should not be any conflicts between the middle school program, travel programs and the Senior division. 

Q:  What if my ballplayer doesnt make the middle school baseball program?

A: Please keep in mind The SPFBL 7th/8th Grade Middle School program is an elite, competitive program for which a relative few are chosen.  However to the question:

1.    First teams chosen will be the two (2) combined 7th/8th grade middle school teams.

2.    Next teams chose will be additional 13U and 14U travel teams.  

3.    Regardless of whether you make either of those teams, you will be registered for the Senior Division. So there will be baseball in the spring for you no matter what!

NOTE: The Middle School program involves a competitive tryout situation, and is designed to end up with the top area ballplayers on the teams.  Its not for everyone, and there will be cutsÃ??Ã?¦ and therefore some unavoidable disappointment for many.  However we will have additional travel teams formed, and we encourage all ballplayers to give it a shot, do your best and if it doesnt work out, there is still spring baseball for you with SPFBL!

Q:  Tell me more about the Senior division.

A: The house league is a tremendous tradition that the SPFBL community has always been valued greatly.  While we all would rejoice if our ballplayer is lucky enough to reach the professional ranks, the reality is that most don't.  And in the end, playing ball with your friends is the thing that they will remember most about their baseball playing days.  It's the most common answer when kids are asked what they enjoy most - playing with their friends.  The Senior Division is coming off it's most successful year in a very long time. 

We expect the Senior division to be a great combination of competition and recreational play.  The players get to play with and against their friends in town, there are healthy little rivalries that manifest themselves in school, bragging rights and friendly rousing...  and it's just plain fun, and exciting, culminating with playoffs and those invaluable school bragging rights!! 

For middle school players, they also get to play alternate positions in the Senior division - for example say your 7th/8th Grade Middle School ballplayer is primarily in the outfield and he wants to play some infield... or pitch, or catch.  Well house league is the perfect opportunity to get some work at pitching (for example), even if they aren't pitching much for their SPFBL 7th/8th Grade Middle School team.  Likewise a ballplayer could be a steady pitcher, but perhaps is wanting to play other positions as well and they aren't getting as much time as they'd like in those positions (or maybe any).  Another example where they can get that playing time at those positions in the Senior division.  

The bottom line: They get more at-bats, more swings, more opportunities to build their skills.  Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that MORE is good, and variety keeps it fun.  And the games for Middle School, Travel and Senior Division do not conflict!  So it works out well!!

Q:  What if my ballplayer also plays on an elite-level AAU team also?

A: SPFBL does not prevent players from playing for outside AAU program.  However it should be clear that the SPFBL Middle School Baseball programs come 1st.  Most if not all club teams acknowledge that to be the case in the spring.  We do expect all ballplayers to disclose what other spring club programs they may involved in.  It's not that this necessarily affects making a team or not making a team.  But good communication is the key to avoiding misunderstanding and perhaps an unfortunate and premature ending to the season for a club ballplayer.  The Managers need to understand these cases that so they can plan, managing pitcher safety, and ensure that all chosen players are committed to SPFBL Middle School Baseball 1st during in the spring.  The expectation is that as a rule, selected ballplayers will attend all middle school and travel games and practices.  Pitchers need to communicate with their managers to ensure they are ready to pitch when/if scheduled.  This must be worked out to the Manager's and Player's satisfaction.  While we understand that some ballplayers may also play outside SPFBL in the spring, we feel that the SPFBL Middle School program is an elite program that is for ballplayers willing to dedicate themselves to the program for the spring as their #1.  This has not been a major problem in past years, but it is mentioned here in detail in the interest of full disclosure.  Finally, this year a minimum of 60% participation in Senior division games is required for middle school or travel team eligibility, per Babe Ruth guidelines, as summer teams will be participating in Babe Ruth sanctioned tournaments.

Please forward any additional questions to us at spfraidersbaseball@aol.com

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