Kids look to take next step
Last season, Northampton's baseball team expected to endure some bumps and bruises, both mentally and physically. It was a team comprised of a handful of seniors and a crop of budding sophomores.
In the end, the Konkrete Kids had a respectable 10-10 record and had a valuable year of experience under the belts with their younger players.
Now, the K-Kids have an array of juniors as well as mixing of seniors who all should figure in helping them again be contenders in the ultra-competitive East Penn Conference.
"We took our lumps last year," said head Coach Mick Sugra, who will begin his fifth year leading the program. "But we were still competitive. Our division and league is always tough. We had four sophomores starting for us last year.
"We have seven returning players and these guys will be ready to help us this season."
Heading the list of returnees will be senior pitchers Noah Durnin and Harley Davidson, both of whom will anchor the Kids' pitching staff. When he isn't pitching, Davidson will be the Kids' starting shortstop.
"Noah (Durnin) threw 30-plus innings for us and he was effective," said Sugra. "That's a good thing for him. "Harley (Davidson) had a shoulder injury last year. But we see good things on the mound for him this year."
Nick DeMieri heads a core of fellow juniors Justin Bragg and Ryan Werley, all of whom will provide depth to the rotation.
Junior Will Stackhouse, who hit above .300 all last year, is back at third base, and junior Jon Miller will see time at short with Davidson on the mound.
In the outfield, senior Collin Shambo was a regular last season in left, and he'll be joined by junior center fielder Shane Aster, and junior Teddy Ancelitz, who is back with the Kids after a stint at Central Catholic - he figures to be in rightfield.
Junior Ian Luberti is back behind the plate and has experience handling the pitching staff.
In addition, Sugra is excited about the addition of a new batting cage, one large enough that allows full bullpen and batting sessions. As a result, the Kids held a controlled scrimmage in the cage against Saucon Valley earlier this week.
The Kids are scheduled to open the season Friday against Catasauqua - field condition permitting - and also have East Stroudsburg South, North Pocono, and Stroudsburg, who defeated the Kids in the district playoff on their schedule. They will also have their hands full playing against Parkland, Emmaus, Central Catholic, Whitehall and Nazareth in their regular league rotation.
"We always have tough games in our division and we want to play the best competition we can," added Sugra. "Our new batting cage has really helped us. We're off to a good start and things have been very productive.
"We have our team in place and we just want to keep going and going."