The Day - Avery Point baseball coach Ian Ratchford raises NECBL trophy with Danbury

The Day – Avery Point baseball coach Ian Ratchford raises NECBL trophy with Danbury

A significant portion of UConn Avery Point baseball coach Ian Ratchford’s life in the game has been spent around the Danbury Westerners, the hometown of the New England Collegiate Baseball League team.

When he was growing up, he participated in games as a fan.

His father, Shaun, once trained the collegiate team of bats with bats.

Ratchford played for the Westerners in 2012.

He also worked as an assistant coach for two summers before taking over as manager for this season.

So leading Danbury to its first NECBL championship in the franchise’s 26-year history on Thursday meant a lot to Ratchford.

“It was cool for me,” Ratchford said. “I have always had a tie with the organization. Therefore (Thursday) night was quite special. We have a couple of people who started western who are no longer with us.

– We are one of the basic members of the league. Winning the first one and being a part of it and doing it for my hometown and getting the guys to bring it back to Danbury, that was special. Our pitching coach here was also my best friend growing up. It was a very cool experience. Our volunteers, the board and everyone, they have been great. They have been waiting a long time for this. ”

Ratchford, who also played at Avery Point before being named the program’s head coach in May 2019, spoke about the championship season on Friday just before attending a title celebration at Rogers Park in Danbury.

Danbury completed the sweep of the best of the three championship series on the road Thursday against the North Shore Navigators with an 8-4 victory in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Ratchford did not worry when the Westerners trailed 3-0 early. Danbury gathered and took the lead for good with a five-round third inning.

“I was honestly quite relaxed and had a good feeling,” Ratchford said. “I did not panic at any point. Our boys played very well. ”

It was a magical race for the westerners, who finished in fourth place in a tight southern division of 23-19 before going 7-1 in the post-season.

On the way to the title, Danbury upset top-seeded Martha’s Vineyard, the regular season in the Southern Division.

Danbury managed to keep his heart in his list together, not an easy task.

“The guys bought in and got comfortable with each other and managed to play loose and keep the same attitude from the regular season until the playoffs,” Ratchford said. – I thought we had a good chance, especially with our team line-up. We knew we could beat anyone on any given day as long as the pitching increased.

“It was a stretch where we won seven out of nine, I think, so I knew we had it in us. As long as we got into the playoffs, I knew we wanted to be a dangerous team.

Danbury emerged as the champion of the highly competitive 14-team series that has a fantastic division in college talent.

It was a rewarding and exhausting month for Ratchford, his coaches, the players and the support staff. Months before the opening day, Ratchford spent countless hours recruiting a roster and preparing for the summer while juggling the demands of the UConn Avery Point job.

A long summer season that started on June 3 ended with Danbury raising the trophy on Thursday.

“It was great to win this summer’s last game, it always helps,” said Ratchford. – It’s a great league. There is a lot of talent. . It’s tiring and it was tiring and it was worth it before that, but (Thursday) night made it especially worth it. There is a great group of people and these kids were phenomenal this summer. ”

Fortunately for Ratchford, he did not have to travel far from his home in Groton on a regular basis. He fell asleep in his own bed when Danbury traveled to play Mystic Schooners at Fitch High School.

On game nights, he either stayed with his parents who still live in the Danbury area or crashed on the couch at his best friend’s home, putting coach Dean White.

“I’m away all year in Groton, so it’s nice to be back for a few months and be back in the community here where I grew up,” Ratchford said.

Ratchford have a much-needed break before the start of the fall baseball season at Avery Point on September 7.

He prefers not to have too much downtime.

He is looking forward to being back on the field again with the Pointers.

“We have a good fall plan so far,” Ratchford said. “Really excited about the recruits we have received. Have some local guys and some guys from all over the state who are very, very talented. We have a couple of kids who were on state championship teams and two pitchers of the year coming in. Let our left side of the infield come back.

“So, I take a couple of days to recharge and then try to get started with the recruiting class for the upcoming seniors. Can’t wait to get there and get back to campus at Point. ”

g.keefe@theday.com

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