This is the introduction to the Dawgs programs and it is when players will first begin to understand the importance of taking responsibility for their equipment and their effort. The focus at this level is introducing players to proper techniques, fundamentals and baseball situations. The Dugout coaches will emphasize repeating proper techniques and developing strong hitting, fielding and pitching habits that players will carry with them through their playing careers. While players have likely been playing at younger levels, the 9u level will be introductory in nature and seek to begin developing a lifelong love of baseball through a positive experience.
The 10u program continues to develop a player’s fundamentals and techniques as it builds on what players were taught at the 9u level. Players will learn the importance of repeating successful techniques each time they play or practice. They will also begin to better grasp the work ethic needed to succeed. The goal is to build confidence and the skills that will propel the player forward in his playing career.
This is the first transition year for our players as they make the jump to a 50-70 field — 50 foot pitcher’s mound and 70-foot base paths (as opposed to 45 and 60). Baserunners are introduced to leading and stealing while pitchers first learn how to hold on a baserunner and attempt pick-off throws. Catchers are introduced to the technique needed to throw out would-be base stealers who are able to run on the pitch as opposed to when the ball passes the hitter (like at the 9u and 10u levels). Additionally, players continue their focus on fundamentals, development, preparation and work ethic. At this age, our coaches begin emphasizing the need for pitchers to develop a quick pace and teaching proper mechanics pitching from the stretch.
The 12u team also plays on a 50-70 field as its players prepare to move up to the Major League-sized diamond. Players at this age are expected to build on the skills learned as an 11u player. As always, skill development is critical at this level, but it also is important that players making the jump to the 13u team develop the confidence to play on the bigger field. The 12u players learn the proper defensive cut-offs they will need to know when they advance to the Major League-sized diamond. Players will begin to understand the importance of playing long-toss during warm-ups to develop arm strength.
Players are introduced to the Major League Baseball-sized diamond at this age level and begin a much different learning process. Head Coach Dave Iava, one of the region’s best 13u coaches, brings a high energy level to the field with the goal of boosting our player’s confidence levels despite the new challenges they face on the bigger field. Coach Iava is the perfect fit for this age group as he patiently instructs our 13u players on the major differences between the small and big diamonds and how the game changes. Many of the fundamentals remain the same, but 13u players learn to think about how baseball situations develop and how to respond to them. They focus more on baseball’s “little things” and begin to understand what it means when someone refers to the sport as “a game of inches.” They start learning the foundational techniques at this level that will eventually make them more successful as they progress through the program. Our 13u team typically plays a 35-plus-game schedule around New England while it competes in the New England Baseball Association (NEBA) and various tournaments.
This is an important year for our players as they approach high-school age. First, our 14u players build on what they have learned at the 13u level. The skills they were taught at 13 are re-emphasized at 14, but the expectation level is higher. With a base of knowledge in place, the players are expected to execute at a higher level and cut down on mental mistakes. Coaches at this level look to build on our players’ confidence and emphasize the importance of competing on every pitch. While always emphasizing fundamentals, the coaches at the 14u level expect to see players develop sharper mental skills and start to understand the importance of conditioning. The 14u Dawgs compete in the New England Baseball Association (NEBA) and various tournaments while playing a 40-plus game schedule.
The focus of the 15u summer program is to ensure that players leave the Dugout Dawgs prepared to compete at the high school varsity level both physically and mentally. Head Coach Ryan Kinski, whose successful playing career included Division 1 baseball at Providence College and the Cape Cod Baseball League, challenges his players to perform under the type of pressure players face at the varsity level. The 35-plus-game 15u schedule begins at the conclusion of the high school season in early June and continues through early August. Players at this level continue to build on what they learned at the lower levels and to polish those mental and physical skills so that they have an edge as they try out for their high school baseball teams. As always, the focus is on player development. A Dugout Dawg should leave the program as a confident player prepared, both mentally and physically, to compete at a high level.
College Prospect Team
For serious players that are hoping to continue their competitive playing career in college, the Dugout offers a fall college prospect program for high school players. The fall schedule includes 20-plus games, which amounts to a full high school spring season, as well as weekly practices. The team plays other area programs as well as in weekend tournaments.