Northampton Press

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

With 3 game left, Legion looks to get on track

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

Northampton Legion head coach Mike Bodnar expected to see the current state of his team at the beginning of the season.

Instead, he still remains optimistic they can turn the tide in their final three games.

They took the first step with an 8-3 victory over Birches Monday night. Tyler Illif pitched a solid five innings for the win. Patrick Bodnar had three RBIs, and Andrew Kovalchik, Zech Lambert, and Kyle Morin had two hits apiece.

Northampton entered Monday night’s game against Birchers with an overall 11-4 record, dropping three straight and sliding down to third place overall in the NORCO Legion. They were two games behind Nazareth in the North Division.

“Yea, we’re scrambling right now,” said Bodnar. “We seemed to have lost confidence in ourselves. We are also throwing the ball all over the place.

“This was something that I expected in the first three weeks of the season. Instead, we got timely hitting and outstanding defense. We are in a real tailspin.”

Bodnar has seen the current state affect the coaches and players.

“We need to hit a reset button,” he said. “We have been trying to keep the pressure off the players.

“But it has been frustrating for everyone. We know we have to regroup quickly.”

Bodnar stated the league likely will take the top six teams – all over the .500 mark – for the playoffs. Grabbing one of the top spots will ensure home field advantage, a position he believes his club can still achieve.

Despite their woes, pitching continues to be a mainstay for Northampton.

Kyle Serman, Jared Hunsberger, Mike Ettl, and Tyler Illif had formed a solid core. However, Ettl likely will be lost for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Evan Zwolenick also figures in the mix.

“Kyle (Serman) and Tyler (Illif) are the older players on the club and they have been stepping up as leaders,” said Bodnar. “They both have been very steady for us.

“Jared Hunsberger just threw a good game for us and he also has been doing a nice job. Ettl can play the field, but he won’t be able to pitch. Evan Zwolenick has had some good moments for us.

“They all have been getting better.”

Heading into the final two games, Bodnar’s message was clear.

“We desperately need some wins,” he said. “They have to go out there and have some fun. We have to get back what we had.”