Valley League Baseball Comes to Charlottesville in 2015

Valley League Baseball Comes to Charlottesville in 2015

Photo: WINA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA (July 2, 2014) – Charlottesville Community Baseball Inc. announced today that it will operate a Valley Baseball League (VBL) collegiate summer team in Charlottesville in 2015. A naming contest will be held later this year, with the name of the team determined by fan vote. The team will play its games at Charlottesville High School, where the baseball field will receive improvements funded by the new Valley League team.
“The growth of baseball interest in the Charlottesville area has made this happen,” said Joe Koshansky, General Manager. “People have embraced the University of Virginia program and love college baseball. Now they will have a chance to see top players from around the country playing in the summertime with wood bats, striving to improve.
“The games will be competitive and the fan experience will be outstanding. We will provide summertime entertainment for the entire community, and we will do it affordably and in a family-friendly atmosphere,” Koshansky added. He is a former pitcher and first baseman at the University of Virginia who played two summers in the Valley League with the Staunton Braves before embarking on a professional career that culminated with the Colorado Rockies.
“From the beginning we want the community to feel this is their team. The naming contest will be a huge opportunity for community participation. Playing at Charlottesville High School is important to us, as well,” said Koshansky.
Preparations for the 2015 season in Charlottesville have already begun, with collaborative discussions with Charlottesville High School regarding improvements to the baseball field, planning for sponsorship sales, on-field promotions, and the team naming contest, development of social media, and early outreach to college coaches and players to create awareness and interest in playing for the Charlottesville team next summer.
“Summer baseball is an important part of college baseball,” said Brian O’Connor, head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers, who reached the College World Series for the third time in 2014 and finished as national runners-up. “Players benefit from the additional repetitions and playing time, and playing with wood bats gives professional scouts a good read on the future potential of players.
“I also like the impact the new Charlottesville team will have on the community,” added O’Connor, who played in the Valley League with the Harrisonburg Turks during his collegiate career at Creighton. “It will be good for local youth baseball, to be sure. The Charlottesville High School location will be accessible to so many people. It will be a fun summer outlet for local residents.”
Valley League Baseball Comes to Charlottesville – Page Two
Collegiate summer baseball is a community-backed venture in ways beyond fans attending games. Each player will live with a host family, volunteers will assist with game operations, and local businesses will be involved via an impressive array of sponsorship opportunities built around the fun, family-friendly fan experience. The naming contest later this year will give local fans a direct say in the team’s formation.
Social media will play a vital role leading up to Opening Day 2015. Facebook and Twitter will be used as primary points of contact from the outset. Team organizers point to a high population of social media-savvy local residents and the ability to create interactive fan experiences and dialogue as the team is formed. Social media will also play a large role in the naming contest and also in player recruitment, as word is disseminated to the college baseball universe that a new team is being formed in Charlottesville.
The community is encouraged to go to the new Facebook and Twitter pages that are now up and running:
Facebook: Charlottesville Baseball 2015
Twitter: @CvilleBase2015
The VBL, sanctioned by the NCAA since 1961, is funded in part by a grant from Major League Baseball and is a member of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, a national affiliation of 12 collegiate summer leagues. The VBL adopted wood bats in 1993. It has produced well over 1,000 professional baseball players, including a record 79 former players drafted in the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Last year 27 Valley League alumni were playing in the Major Leagues.
The league is playing in an 11-team, one division format in 2014. It will return to a 12-team format in 2015. Current franchises include Covington Lumberjacks, Harrisonburg Turks, New Market Rebels, Staunton Braves, Waynesboro Generals, Front Royal Cardinals, Aldie Senators, Charles Town Canons, Strasburg Express, Winchester Royals, and Woodstock River Bandits. In the current format, each team plays a 40-game schedule June through August concluding with an eight team playoff to determine the Lineweaver Cup Championship.
“We welcome Charlottesville back to the Valley League, and are excited to see the team in action in 2015,” said Donald Lemish, VBL President. “Baseball fans will enjoy what they see on the field, and the fan experience will be great fun. The success of UVA’s baseball team has fueled so much interest in the collegiate game, and this is a logical extension of that.”
Charlottesville Community Baseball, Inc. is a non-profit organization. In 2011, the VBL began a process of transitioning to not-for-profit status. All teams as well as the League are now not-for-profit organizations supported by numerous volunteers. The Charlottesville Baseball Group has developed a mission statement for its new baseball program:
The mission of the Charlottesville Baseball Group is to promote the game of baseball in Central Virginia by providing a high quality collegiate summer team, a memorable fan experience, and opportunities for youth to grow in the game and in character.
This is not the first time Valley League baseball has been contested in Charlottesville. The Charlottesville Hornets played at Burley Middle School in the 1960s and ‘70s. Their final season was 1974.

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