NHS baseball hopes to answer questions early
Every year, Northampton head baseball coach Mick Sugra is faced with a series of questions and issues before the season.
For the Konkrete Kids, it usually has been about replacing and refilling in their lineup.
However, this year, the situation may be a little more challenging.
The Kids are looking to replace three starters in the infield, to fill a hole or two in the outfield, and to augment their pitching staff.
“We lost a lot of offense from last year,” said Sugra. “We have some big question marks right now.
“Our biggest question is can we score runs?”
The Kids lost infield starters Kyle Morin (.468), Brittain Shander (468) and Seth Laky (.340) along with outfielder Timmy Antigua (.328) and catcher Zech Lambert (.339).
“We had two guys who hit over .400 and three over .300,” added Sugra. “We have some big schools to fill.”
Junior Mike Kuzio (.250) will make the move from short to third and senior Zach Angerman should find a home at either second or short. Senior Andrew Kovalchik (.250) can also land as spot.
Seniors Isaac Tucker (.349), who has committed to play at King’s College next year, and Cam Eaton (.270) will be back in the outfield.
On the mound, senior Cole Rufe arguably was the Kids’ most consistent starter last season, as he posted a 4-3 record with a 2.65 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 48 innings.
Seniors Phil Vooz and Terry Graver, along with junior left-hander Evan Zwolenik, all will increase their roles after they saw limited action last year. Left-hander Cameron Cooper was 4-1 on the JVs last year and should see playing time.
“We like Cole (Rufe) and Evan (Zwolenik) as our one and two,” said Sugra. “Graver did a phenomenal job last year for us coming in tight situations and getting us out of jams. Vooz has really good stuff and we plan to use him a lot more this year.
“Cooper had an 0.00 ERA on the JVs last year, so we’ll see how his stuff pans out at the varsity level. We don’t have any fireballer like some other teams, but we really like our pitchers’ mentalities, work ethic, and desire to compete.”
Sugra also is confident the team’s substantial commitment in the offseason will pay dividends. The Kids lost to Freedom in the semifinals of the Lehigh Valley Fall League and they also played well at the Berkshire tournament.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “We played well in the fall and the kids bought in. We then came in and started working in mid-November and they worked hard.
“Our guys had a good fall so we’ll have to see how that transitions to the varsity level for the new guys.”
The Kids – 10-11 last year with a first-round loss in districts – are scheduled to open Friday against Catasauqua.
It will be an opener with some unsettled questions.
“We have to see how good put pitching is and can we score runs,” said Sugra. “That can be a big issue playing in the East Penn Conference.
“We want to compete, earn respect, and get back to where we were next year.”