New Hampshire Hardball

NHIAA: D1 will feature new team

Manchester West is back in Division I. Well, sort of.

After dealing with low partipation numbers for many years, West, a Division II program, has formed a cooperative team with Manchester Central that will compete in Division I this season. The team will be known as the Knights, and will have co-head coaches: former West head coach Dan Colburn and former Central head coach Ernie Yerrington.

West didn’t field a varsity team in 2016, 2017 or 2018. The Blue Knights retured to the varsity level in 2019, but didn’t have enough players to field a competitive varsity team this season.

“The talent level wasn’t where it needed to be to compete on the varsity level for those years when we were only JV, and I wouldn’t have had enough to sufficiently field even one team (this year),” Colburn said. 

Central, which has always been a Divisison I program, didn’t have enough players for a junior varsity team last season.

“Based on the numbers last year between West, Central and Memorial – and granted it was almost like a semi-Covid year – 65 total students tried out for three public high school teams, and each high school would have loved to have had a varsity and a JV team,” Yerrington said. “Memorial was the only one that had enough players for a varsity and a JV. This will benefit both schools. I’m hoping we’ll have a minimum of 30 kids, maybe as (many) as 40.

“I’m told Memorial has 42 kids who have registered on Family ID. It certainly appears that Memorial will have a varsity and a JV, and Central/West will have a varsity and JV.”

Colburn estimated that there will be at least 10 or 11 West students in the program, five of them being freshmen. “Our whole goal was to make sure the kids who wanted to play could play baseball,” he said.

Yerrington said new jerseys, hats and pants have been ordered that will feature black and gold colors and a new logo. Home baseball games will continue to be played at Gill Stadium, which is where both teams played their home games in the past.

“So far there hasn’t been any drawback at all,” Colburn said. “The kids have been great. A lot of them play with or against each other in the summer. 

“Ernie and I and the kids are looking forward to it. I think we’re going to at least compete in Division I. Our pitching depth should help us. That’s what we’re kind of relying on. The West kids are excited to get back in Division I, and I’m happy because I didn’t think we would be able to have a team at all.”


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