BASKING RIDGE, NJ — While Ridge High School sports programs resume getting ready for their NJSIAA-sanctioned fall seasons on Monday, a Ridge team that doesn't usually play in the fall is representing Basking Ridge this year.
Members of the Ridge baseball program have joined to assemble a team that is entered in the USABL fall 18U Central Division for the first time. This team has no affiliation with the NJSIAA, but consists of many players in the high school's baseball program.
Like all other spring teams, the Red Devils' baseball program missed out completely on the spring season in 2020 when the NJSIAA canceled all sports during the early days of the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. The Ridge varsity reassembled in the summer for a nice run through the first-ever Last Dance Tournament, which saw Ridge get through its pool undefeated before losing to St. Peter's Prep in the first round of the bracket portion of the tournament.
But now, a good number of those same players are back for a fall campaign. They got things off on a winning note Sunday afternoon at Torpey Field in Bridgewater with a 13-2 victory over Manville. The division consists of a blend of town teams like Ridge that are an offshoot of their sanctioned high school teams, and club teams without specific town or school affiliations.
In-season head coach Tom Blackwell is not permitted to coach the Ridge baseball players during the school year outside of the spring season--and Blackwell is an assistant coach in the football program in the fall. In his stead, Chuck Albanese, Ron Campione and Rob D'Amato are coaching this fall's team.
Ridge is scheduled to play a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Woodbridge next Sunday at Mountain Park. The season is slated to consist of nine regular-season games followed by playoffs.