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Who are the Eau Claire A’s?

The Eau Claire A’s are the select baseball component of Eau Claire Babe Ruth Baseball (ECBR).  The program is designed and intended to offer families an option for their kids to play a more competitive level of baseball without having to play in separate league play. Throughout the spring and summer, the A’s play in weekend baseball tournaments throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota against other select baseball teams.

How big of a commitment is it to play A’s baseball?

To be an A’s player requires a significant commitment of time and effort on the part of both players and parents.  During the spring/summer they will be practicing every Tuesday and Thursday with optional practice time on Wednesdays and occasionally scrimmaging other teams in between tournaments.  This format is designed to enable our kids to develop more as players, to enable our teams to be more competitive against their opposition, and to enable families to have a competitive baseball option that does not impose the time and logistical difficulties of league play in addition to tournament play.  

We believe that a player does not get better by playing more games just for the sake of playing games.  Rather, players get better by practicing more, getting more instruction and “reps,” and playing in more meaningful games.  And we believe a select baseball option that does not impose league play in addition to tournament play is an attractive option for many families.  That said, in order for players to develop and teams to be competitive, practice must be a priority not just for the program, but also for all players and families participating in the program.

What are the age levels?

The A’s offer teams for the 12U through 16U age groups.  Age determination is made based on May 1st of the upcoming season.  For example, a player trying out for the 13U team must be thirteen (13) years old or younger as of May 1 of 2024 for the 2024 season.

Are A’s players required to also play in the ECBR in-house leagues?

No.  Due to recent changes to National Babe Ruth rules, ECBR no longer requires players to play in the Prep or Junior League (ECBR’s in-house leagues) in addition to their participation in the A’s program.  Playing in the in-house league remains an option at all levels if the players and/or parents wish to do both.

Can I play for the A's if I don't live in Eau Claire?

Yes.  Our program is open to players from Eau Claire and the surrounding communities.  In the past we have had players from the following communites participate in our program:

Altoona, Augusta, Boyceville, Cadott, Chetek, Chippewa Falls, Colfax, Durand, Eau Claire, Eleva, Elk Mound, Fairchild, Fall Creek, Independence, Marshfield, Menomonie, Mondovi, Osseo, Rice Lake, Spencer, Strum, and Whitehall.

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Does the program have equal or minimum playing time or position requirements?

No. As a select baseball program, we do not have equal or minimum playing time or position requirements. The A’s play in highly competitive baseball tournaments and the coaches need to have flexibility to manage their lineups in a way that puts them in a position to win ball games.

That said, we strongly encourage all of our coaches to use a continuous batting order (meaning every player hits in order regardless of whether they are playing in the field that inning) if it is an option and that is typically what our coaches do.  In addition, we strongly encourage our coaches to ensure that playing time for each player evens out over the course of the season.

How far do the teams travel for the tournaments they play in?

Teams make every effort to stay within two hours drive-time for tournaments. We make a concentrated effort to keep the program as family friendly as possible, and that includes trying to minimize travel time and costs for our participating families.

We also have to be aware of the varying levels of competitiveness that can exist between different age levels within our program.  From year to year, some age levels can be more competitive than others, and thus it may be necessary to try to arrange for some age levels to go to tournaments that better match the level of play of those teams, which may require additional travel.

Competitiveness is not the only factor that weighs into the tournament selection process. In addition to competitiveness, we try to:

(1) send as many teams to the same tournaments 

(2) schedule around holidays if we can

(3) avoid having teams go to tournaments three (3) or more weekends in a row

(4) avoid important ECBR league dates

(5) have the season over at all age levels by the end of July so that families have the month of August free.

Trying to meet all of those goals is a difficult task and the result is not predictable and never perfect. 

Can my child play  "up a level” ?

Yes – so long as your son or daughter is at or below the appropriate age as of May 1st of the season year at issue (see above), they can try out for and play on a team level that corresponds to what grade they are in at school. However, while ECBR and the A’s program will try to accommodate the preferences of players and parents in this regard, we reserve the right to place players on those teams that are most appropriate in light of the needs of the program as a whole and their respective skill level.

How many tournaments will the teams play in?

Each team will participate in 5 tournaments, with the option of adding more.  Adding additional tournaments will be left up to the coaches and parents of each team.

When does the season start and end?

All teams have regular team practices during the winter and spring months leading up to the outdoor practice tournament season. Such practices will start in January and they will occur either once or twice a week over the course of the winter and into spring, depending on the age of the team.

Outdoor practices will begin in March or April, weather permitting. The first tournament is typically in May (depending on the age group), and the last tournament is typically toward the end of July.

When will we know the tournament schedule?  Do all teams participate in the same tournaments?

The timing for selecting our tournaments and issuing our resulting schedule depends entirely on when the various tournaments release their information and open up their registration processes.  We hope to be able to communicate a full season schedule to our participating families sometime during the month of January preceding the season at issue, which enables our families to plan out their spring and summer schedules consistent with their A’s schedule.

We do have a preference as a program to have all teams participate in many of the same tournaments, so that families who have multiple kids playing in the program are not required to travel to different locations on different weekends for each of their participating kids. 

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When will the practice schedule be posted?

The practice schedules for all teams will be posted by December 1st and can be found on the calendar.  Use the link on the main menu above.

How many players will be on each team?

The standard roster size is 12 players, but the manager of each team does have the option to add additional players if he feels the need to do so.

What does it cost to play in the program? What do the fees cover?

The player fees for the 2024 season are $285 for returning players and $315 for new players.  The fee covers uniforms, tournament fees, indoor facility/field rental costs, insurance, etc.  We require payment of a first installment towards your fee at the time you accept your offer - these fees are not refundable. The remainder of your fee will be required in January. 

Who do I contact with additional questions?

If you have additional questions, please use the contact box below or contact our Program Director Nathan Kilness at kilnessn@uwstout.edu or by phone at 715-271-1295.

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