7u - Currently Thunder is the only team locally, which is a real shame because that is why California gets ahead of Nevada. They start teams at 6u and 7u and are far more developed by their 10u season. This team competed fairly well with the Cali big boys in the NIT - not quite on their caliber, but look out next year after a full season under their belt
8u - Thunder is one of the premiere teams nationally and has won a major NIT, took second in another, and won many tournaments, including 9u ones. Rawlings Tigers are the only real competition at this point, and they have a chance to be a real competitor by next season. Again, Las Vegas seems to struggle with getting teams formed at a young age
9u - The Raptors stand out as heads and tails above the rest of the field. GBG and SN have had some success, but they are probably not quite on the Raptors level at this point. 9u seems to be the weakest of all the age groups in the Valley. There simply are not a lot of teams that can compete on a national scale. Perhaps there are a lot of the more skilled 9u eligible kids playing up?
10u - The strangest of the age groups. LVR, Gamers, and SN are so similarly skilled it is VERY difficult to rank them one through three. All three teams are very well coached, have had tournament success, and compete nationally. It would be fun watching them play a round robin tournament with just the three of them. As for the rest, only High Heat would stand a chance of winning a game outside of something very fluky happening
11u - Xpress continues to dominate, however is the gap closing a little? Hard to say just yet, but GBG, Houston, and LVR and even RTF have played well at times recently. The gap between the majors teams and AA teams isn't as far as the younger age groups. Bruins, RTD, and Kaos have been very solid
12u - LVR has been the dominant team at their age level for years now and haven't had a real local competitor since GSP battled with them a handful of years ago. There are a number of teams behind LVR that play well at times, but maybe not a lot of consistent success and really no one that is going to compete nationally
COVID has created an interesting dynamic with our youth baseball scene. Sadly, it put a huge dagger into Little League with their participation numbers dropping dramatically this spring season. As has been written previously on this site, Little League is important to promote and advocate the game of baseball. While we all love travel baseball, LL needs to have a place and it is a shame when many of the top players stop participating. At the very least, kids get to make new friends outside of their club teammates and they get to wear cool major league uniforms
However, COVID has pushed many of those former LL players into Club. There are a great deal of modestly skilled fledgling teams out there trying to get footing. What has been difficult is finding tournaments for these teams. Typically, SU Baseball and Empire tournaments are nice fits for non-major teams, however even these tournaments have had ringer teams signing up over the past ten months. While those involved with the majors teams love having the Cali teams coming in to challenge them, it has been rough for some of the lesser skilled AA teams. 14-1 games are not very fun for either side. Fortunately, this should all start to smooth out with things beginning to reopen
What should likely happen is some of these teams merging to create more formidable teams that forge a stronger local scene at each age group. This has already happened over the past couple weeks in two separate situations. Getting your teeth kicked in isn't easy, and when a team starts to get a little better - often some of the top players leave to go to a more skilled teams, then it is back to square one. Tough for the coaches
Things are changing on the local scene, some programs such as Sidewinders, VV Wolfpack, LV Lions, and Nevada Crew are growing and creating new opportunities for players. It is helpful to walk into a program that has some infrastructure.
LVR has also expanded and that program does a great job promoting the local scene on a national basis by fielding formidable teams at most age groups. Kind of like the Dirtbags out of Scottsdale, when you see LVR on a schedule, you assume you will have your hands full. That is good for Las Vegas. Hopefully a few more of our programs can develop that. SN might already be there, as well as the Gamers. SCT is doing it with the very young teams
LVBA is struggling right now, but here is to hoping they can rebuild that program because there are years of history there and we are a much better for it on a national basis when LVBA teams are strong
CBA has been kicking the tires with rebuilding here and now there is another team, Legacy, advertising plans with great bravado to field teams at every single age level
Have fun, all, and lets have a great April of baseball. Good to be back on the diamonds locally!!