Northampton Press

Sunday, September 15, 2019

K-Kids prep for playoffs

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

Like any team, Northampton head coach Mick Sugra has worked for the best possible outcome for his team this season.

With their 5-0 win over Whitehall Monday, the Konkrete Kids certainly have achieved and accented it.

The win total marks the most under Sugra’s nine-year reign, topping the previous mark of 15 wins in 2015.

“That’s what we have strived for all season,” noted Sugra about his team’s success. “We have seen it all come through.

“We liked our pitching and defense and our hitting was a question mark. But all three of those phases have been good for us. That is a big plus.”

Sugra has watched his team develop and mature quickly, a squad most believed would be around the .500 mark this season. The Kids had a 13-game winning streak this season, and they have only been shutout once (2-0 by Emmaus). After the loss to end their 13-game streak, the Kids put together a modest and impressive four-game streak to end the regular season.

“They are a very close-knit group on and off the field,” he said. “Also, they have been very coachable.

“They have totally have bought into what we have told them, and we haven’t had some of the problems in the past. We have been working out often, and they bring a great work ethic every day.

“We never had a bad loss all season. We didn’t play well against Dieruff and Pocono Mountain East, but we came back and won.”

Senior Cole Rufe (5-1, 1.34) and junior Evan Zwolenick (5-0, 1.29) have anchored the Kids’ starting staff and Phil Vooz (2-0, 0.97) can be a third starter. Junior Cam Cooper (1-1, 1.90) and senior Terry Graver (2-1, 3.50) have been strongholds in the bullpen.

“When I looked at (Rufe and Zwolenick’s) their stats the other day, I said ‘that’s nuts,’” added Sugra. “Evan (Zwolenick), too, has been very good, Phil (Vooz) can be our third guy. Cam Cooper is our lefty out of the pen and Graver has been solid.”

The lone drawback has been their seeding in the EPC and District 11 Class 6A tournaments, where they are seeded third in both. In the conference playoffs, they are behind Parkland and Liberty and in the district playoffs, they are behind Parkland and Liberty.

Northampton began the season with consecutive losses to Parkland and Emmaus, and then had its winning streak snapped by Parkland.

Parkland and Emmaus have been the proverbial thorn-in-the-side.

Sugra recalled his first year when he had three standout pitchers and lost to Parkland in the district semifinals and also five years ago when a strong team also fell to them in the same bracket.

“We’ll see what happens in the postseason,” he said. “We lost to a Parkland pitcher who had been Pitcher-of-the-Year and an Emmaus pitcher who is headed to the University of Louisville, or could get drafted.

“But we are pretty confident we can do well in the postseason.”