Aside from helping his Renegades, a group of 13 and 14 year olds that travel about playing baseball, Steve Kray was also on the lookout for a chance to expand his program and give youngsters as much opportunity as possible to play competitive baseball during the summer months.
His search has concluded with the Renegades joining the Bruisers, the Cowle Post 151 American Legion team out of Conneaut. They will begin play next summer.
“We’re gonna transition right over to the Conneaut Bruisers,” Kray said. “The Renegades are gonna kind of faze out, and with their help and support, we’re gonna play under the Bruisers name and organization. We’ll be a full-fledged member of the Cowle Post 151 there in Conneaut.”
Kray started the Renegades as an 11U team three years ago. With many of the Bruisers players aging to the upper division, it only made sense for his group to transition to becoming part of their program.
“Their sons have gotten older and kind of moved up into the 17- and 18-year-old division,” Kray said of the parents and coaches that contacted him about the Bruisers. “They’d like to keep the Bruisers organization going and they approached us about the potential of us coming over and joining that organization.”
The Bruisers 18U team will be playing for the American Legion state championship later this week. The team is coached by Joe Zappitelli, while Greg Myers and Jim Kennedy run the 16U team. Zappitelli said having the Renegades join the legion is a win for everyone.
“The success of a legion organization is great coaches,” Zappitelli said. “Greg Myers and Jim Kennedy have provided that, and now I’m excited for Steve Kray at 14U.”
Zappitelli’s son, Joey, played for Kray at Edgewood during the now athletic director’s coaching days in the early 2000s. Being able to provide baseball aside from high school is what he says Legion ball is all about.
“We have provided a great foundation for players to excel in high school and then to succeed in college,” Zappitelli said. “Steve’s team will be the fourth generation of Bruisers (for) Post 151.”
The Renegades currently consist of two teams, 13U and 14U. Both teams played a 26-game schedule this summer.
While making kids better for their high school and possibly their college teams, Kray said what is most important is just giving them a chance to play a competitive schedule at an affordable price each summer.
“Everyone has their goals about getting to college and that sort of thing,” he said. “I'm trying to do the best for the kids in our county. Where they don’t have to leave and they don’t have to spend a considerable amount of money, but still play a competitive schedule, compete on the weekends and get better at the game of baseball.”
Tryouts for next year’s team will be at Edgewood High School on Aug. 4 at 5:30. Registration will begin at 5.