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Ventura County Bulldogs
updated: Jan 10, 2017, 2:57 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Ventura County Bulldogs-an 11U select baseball team-get new sponsor and expanded opportunities

The Rancho Grande Prospects, photographed at the mural-decorated field at Beach City Baseball Academy, back row, left to right: Jesse Schaffer, Aidan Schindel, Roman Malher, Beckham Rutherford, Ben Fabbian, and Willem Rutherford. Front row, left to right, are: Riley Dalto, Rudy Aldana, Makel Aglietti, Conner Jones, Kaleb Garcia, and Luke Wells. Not pictured is teammate Caleb Sebek.

Talented players from Ojai, Oxnard, Santa Paula, and Ventura come together as Rancho Grande Prospects-sponsored by El Segundo's Beach City Baseball Academy

The Ventura County Bulldogs, a team of talented 11U baseball players playing in the Camarillo Pony Advanced Baseball League (ABL), just got a shot at enhanced coaching and regional tournament play as the Rancho Grande Prospects. Richard Murad, owner of the Beach City Baseball Academy in El Segundo and of the 200-acre Rancho Grande located in the Los Padres National Forest east of Ojai, has reached out to sponsor the team and offer them access to his Beach City Baseball Academy coaching staff and batting facility, along with $5,000 towards travel and other expenses. Murad's top-level El Segundo travel teams, U9 to U14, the Beach City Prospects, have won many awards and compete at the highest levels. Last August their U12 team brought home the coveted Cooperstown trophy after winning a week of intense tournament play, Aug. 27-Sept. 1, 2016, at the famed Cooperstown Dreams Park, New York.

"It's an amazing opportunity," says Ron Schindel, the team's manager, who is also Oak Grove School's director of elementary education. "We started with a core group of all-star kids from Ojai and began reaching out to players throughout Ventura County -Oxnard, Santa Paula, and Ventura. We were excited when Richard Murad informed us of his plans to turn Rancho Grande into a baseball camp for summer tournament play, but now he's helping us out in our regular season play, as well."

The team normally practices at a field in Ventura, which is centrally located for the far- flung roster, but Murad has also proposed to make new fields available to the team at Rancho Grande-a welcome addition to the limited number of baseball facilities in Ojai.

The players and parents of the new Rancho Grande Prospects had the opportunity to visit Beach City Baseball Academy-Southern California's premier baseball training facility-last weekend.

"It was a great experience," Schindel says. "We were treated like family, and the boys received three hours of individualized coaching from BCBA's exceptional staff. Richard presented all of the players with jerseys, which in addition to the team name, also display a variety of inspirational slogans, like ‘Every pitch is a new beginning,' and ‘If life throws you a curve ball, wait for your pitch.' We all left feeling very excited about our ‘prospects'-pun intended!"

Proposing an eco-friendly, world-class baseball camp Murad, the team's new sponsor, said, "We're proud to introduce our newest team from Ojai, California, which joined the Beach City Baseball/Rancho Grande organization today. This is the first team to represent us in Ventura County as we expand our operations to include our Rancho Grande property in Ojai. This 11U team, led by BCBA Coach Alberto Concepcion, will be trained to play at the most competitive levels that club baseball has to offer."

As the new owner of the former Rancho Grande cattle ranch in Rose Valley, Murad is hoping to transform the property into an off-grid, eco-friendly baseball camp. In addition to serving as a top-flight training facility, the camp would introduce youngsters to sustainable living practices and respect for the land. Murad, who is CEO of Murad Skincare Company, recently sold to Unilever, envisions the camp as a place where "kids can connect with the land and learn something about its ancestral stewards, the Chumash, while enjoying a world-class baseball experience."

The proposal has generated excitement among young Ojai baseball players. In addition to Schindel, Kim Maxwell, 2015-16 president of the Ojai Valley Little League, said, "On behalf of Ojai Valley Little League, the players and our community, thank you for your generosity and commitment to the community. We look forward to welcoming you ‘home' as this becomes your neighborhood and community as well! I am very excited to become a part of Beach City Baseball in Ojai and have our off- season players take part in all you will have to offer."

Although Murad's team has been working diligently to gain approval for the proposal, its future remains uncertain.

"We brought the Rancho Grande Prospects to our facility in El Segundo because we are not yet permitted to build cabins and have teams stay overnight at Rancho Grande. Although we are doing everything we can to gain approval, there is no guarantee that we'll be successful. We'll all be very disappointed if we're unable to move forward."

A Cooperstown tradition

Beach City Baseball Academy makes it a tradition to send at least one 12U team to Cooperstown each year. Cooperstown's Doubleday Field is where baseball began, back in 1839. The city is also home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the American Youth Baseball Hall Of Fame. Schindel intends for the Rancho Grande Prospects to play at Cooperstown in 2018. "It's a great incentive for young athletes to work hard-and it's also a reward for the effort they put in," Schindel says. In Alberto Concepcion, Jr., the Rancho Grande Prospects have a stellar coach to help make that dream a reality. After an outstanding high school career, Concepcion received a baseball scholarship to USC, where he started for three years and, in his junior year, was named a pre-season All-American, post-season All-American, PAC- 10 Player of the Year and a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award. At the end of that year, the Boston Red Sox selected him in the 21st round of the draft. Since then, he has played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Florida Marlins. As a certified professional trainer and BCBA coach, Concepcion hones players' hitting, catching and pitching skills and, like all the BCBA staff, emphasizes the character-building aspects of baseball. The Rancho Grande Prospects couldn't be more pleased. "We're grateful to Beach City Baseball Academy for believing in us and helping us get to the highest possible level of play," Schindel says. "We're ready."

About Beach City Baseball Academy

Beach City Baseball Academy is the premier baseball training facility in Southern California. The 25,000-square-foot campus includes seven state-of-the-art indoor batting cages offering custom pitch technology to help players from T-ballers up to the pros perfect their swings. The campus features a well-stocked pro shop and fitness center, a 2,500-square-foot outdoor training area and a 12,000-square-foot outdoor regulation Little League practice infield. Beach City's renowned Baseball Academy also sponsors the award-winning Beach City Prospects and Trosky Baseball travel baseball club teams and operates a school program with open enrollment and an exceptional 6 to 1 student to coach ratio for truly focused training. The Academy also offers seasonal programs, camps, clinics and private baseball lessons year round for players of every skill level. For more information about Beach City Baseball Academy, visit www.beachcitybaseballacademy.com. For more information about Rancho Grande, please visit ranchogrande.com.


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