The All-American Collegiate Baseball League may be in its first year, but commissioner Paul Busa says the league’s six teams have been able to attract exceptional talent.With teams in Mooresville and Mount Pleasant as well as in Davie, Rowan and Wilkes counties, the AACBL has a mix of athletes from across the college baseball spectrum – from junior colleges to Division I schools like Kentucky, UMass and San Francisco.Busa, the former coach for the Mooresville All-Americans wood-bat team, decided to create the AACBL after a disappointing experience on the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League last summer.Also not wanting his team to play in a league with restrictions, like pitch counts or mandatory rest, the 35-year-old decided to take action.“We just tried to start a league that we could do the things that we wanted to do and do them for the right reasons,” Busa said.At first, Busa, an association scout with the Houston Astros organization, went after NAIA and junior college players, but as word spread, he also began attracting NCAA players.“It kind of snowballed from there,” he said.Although Busa admits that it has been tough to compete for players with more established wood-bat leagues, like the nearby Southern Collegiate Baseball League, he hopes to change that soon.“Those leagues are more established, so in some coaches’ minds, they think that they’re better,” he said. “I’m just taking my lumps and after this year, we’ll build a track record.”Chris Estilow, the head coach for the Mount Pleasant Militia, whose teams play home games at Mount Pleasant High, said a large majority of his players are North Carolina natives.Concord brothers Kyle and Ryan Cliff (Limestone College) as well as Harrisburg’s J.T. Ford (Louisburg College) and Mount Pleasant’s Evan Seymour (Chowan) play for the Militia.That’s also the case on the Mooresville All-Americans, said coach Paul Finger.Nearby players include Davidson’s Andrew Asken (Pfeiffer), Denver’s Byron Sherrill (Wake Tech) and Parker Hills (Lafayette College), Harrisburg’s Blake Sides (Spartanburg Methodist), Huntersville’s Vernon Carr (Winston-Salem State), Mooresville’s Andrew Meadows (Catawba Valley Community College) as well as Troutman’s Aaron Sparks (CVCC).Busa likes that breakdown.“This is baseball mecca, as far as I’m concerned,” said Busa. “It’s an underrated baseball state.”Busa hopes the league will expand to at least eight teams – and to as many as 16 – next summer.“I want this league to become the premier league in the Southeast,” said Busa.“There’s no point on setting low goals.”The AACBL aims to give its players the repetitions and outings to get better for next spring’s college season. It also gives them a low-pressure atmosphere.“I just want them to play quality baseball and get a great experience,” Estilow.Finger, whose All-Americans play home games at Mooresville Middle, shares his colleague’s goals.“These kids play a long season,” he said. “So they just go out there and enjoy the game, enjoy this great experience.”For some of the junior college players looking to continue playing at a higher level, it also gives them exposure to college coaches.Busa said that going forward, the league hopes to attract attention from the community.“With the brand of baseball that we have, I think if we get the word out, we’ll be all right,” said Busa.The All-American Collegiate Baseball League will hold its first all-star game at Staton Field in Granite Quarry, near Salisbury, on July 6.All six teams will compete in the league’s double-elimination playoffs July 26-28.
Tuesday, Jul. 02, 2013
New wood-bat league hopes to attract talent
Learn more: Visit allamericanleague.com for league standings and schedules.
Tovar: 704-358-5941; Twitter: @sergiotovar
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