It won’t be too long before the first snow flies, but it’s never too early to think about baseball season.
A local group is doing just that, as the Southern Tier Power looks to get off the ground and hit a home run with local ballplayers.
The Southern Tier Power is a new travel baseball club currently accepting sign-ups. The club is looking to field two teams, a 16U and a 14U, with games starting next summer. Sign-ups are already underway and the first team activity may take place this weekend, said club co-founder Tom Kenney.
The Southern Tier Power will consist of local baseball talent from Steuben, Allegany and southern Livingston counties. The recruitment area stretches from Dansville and Wayland down through the Hornell area and on to Wellsville, across Allegany County and back up through Fillmore.
The club was founded to help fill a lack of baseball opportunities in the area relative to other regions.
“Right now there’s kids from Alfred-Almond going all the way to Rochester. Kids from this area are going everywhere,” Kenney said. “When (Kenney’s son) Jake was playing, we went from Lancaster, Pa. to Corning, Elmira. The family schedule for some kids doesn’t allow that kind of traveling for practice sessions.
“We want to develop young players and give the kid who is serious about playing the game at the next level, whether it’s in college or wherever, an opportunity to develop a little more than what’s currently available.”
Travel ball has become a must for serious players, especially in Western New York where the short high school season in the spring can be heavily impacted by inclement weather.
“It’s the way of the world now. Travel ball has exploded over the last 20 years,” Kenney said. “The kids who are going on to the next level are almost all playing travel ball. They’re seeing better competition, getting exposed, and the coaches are looking out there for them.
“A lot of the places that do it have some kind of business they’re running, like hitting or training, and the team is tied to the business. We’re not doing that,” Kenney added.
Players are eligible if they’re 16-years-old or younger on May 1, 2018. Kenny foresees the Southern Tier Power playing in six summer tournaments, getting in around 26-30 games. If the club takes off, it will also host its own tournaments locally in the future.
“We’re hoping to eventually run two local tournaments, one centered in the Houghton-Wellsville area over there, and another one in the Alfred, Hornell, Dansville, Wayland area,” Kenney said. “We want it to be convenient for our kids, bring people into the community and bring some revenue in.”
The Southern Tier Power have an experienced coaching staff led by Kenney, who won nearly 650 games and many region and conference championships at Alfred State. Kenney has also won a handful of titles coaching in the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL) with the Cohocton Red Wings and the Hornell Dodgers.
Kenney’s former assistant at Alfred State, Marc Agnello, is on the staff for the Southern Tier Power as well. Agnello has coached NYCBL teams in both Hornell and Wellsville, as well as JV baseball in Wellsville.
Kenney’s son Jake is also on the staff. After a stellar playing career, Jake Kenney has coached the Hornell Dodgers, at Houghton College and currently serves as the Wayland-Cohocton JV coach.
Former Houghton College slugger Jake Bannerman rounds out the staff. Bannerman went on to serve as an assistant at Houghton College and to coach Wellsville in the NYCBL. He’s currently the varsity baseball coach in Andover.
“Everybody on the staff is quality,” Tom Kenney said. “It’s hard to find four guys who have that kind of experience at the collegiate level. It’s a good mix of youth and experience. Jake Kenney and Jake Bannerman have a tremendous amount of experience for guys their age. They’ve both done a lot.”
For more info, contact Tom Kenney (607-661-9472, email@example.com), Marc Agnello (585-610-0645, firstname.lastname@example.org), Jake Kenney (607-382-4207, email@example.com) or Jake Bannerman (585-808-4519, JBannerman@andovercsd.org).