Northampton Press

Sunday, September 15, 2019
Press photo by Linda RothrockCole Rufe has helped to lead an impressive Kids pitching staff. Press photo by Linda RothrockCole Rufe has helped to lead an impressive Kids pitching staff.
Mike Kovalchik Mike Kovalchik

Kovalchik, Rufe have Kids ready for postseason

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

Since the beginning of the season, Andrew Kovalchik and Cole Rufe believed their team would be in the hunt for the East Penn Conference (EPC) and District 11 6A titles.

So far, the senior duo has been right. And it has been all about the Kids’ bond.

“Since we came up short against Parkland and Emmaus in our first two games, our team chemistry has been stronger than ever and it shows,” said Kovalchik. “We have guys constantly picking each other up and encouraging one another.

“We’re playing great baseball and we continue to do so.”

With their win over Whitehall Monday, the Kids ended their regular season with a 17-3 mark and they will be on the three seed in the EPC tournament that begins this weekend.

After Whitehall, Kovalchik was hitting .319 with eight RBIs. He has been a constant force in the field at first base all season for the Kids.

“Andrew missed a couple of games because he went on a school trip,” said Kids’ head coach Mick Sugra. But he bounced right back and has been solid for us all season. He has done a great job from the leadoff spot and setting the table for us.”

Kovalchik has been playing baseball since he was able to start playing organized ball.

“I started playing baseball when I was five,” he said. “If I had to pick one highlight, it would be winning the Knee-Hi championship with all of these same guys. It has been a lot of fun.”

Rufe and junior Evan Zwolenick have formed one of the more effective tandems in the Lehigh Valley. Heading into Monday’s game, Rufe has a 5-1 record with a 1.34 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.

He has gained more command of his pitches this season.

“The season has been going well for me,” he said. “I have been working hard on hitting my spots and keeping my pitches down. My team has been swinging the bats well, and they have been fielding well behind me.

“We have worked hard every day to be the best.”

Rufe also began playing organized ball at a young age.

“I started playing organized baseball when I was five,” he said. “One thing I will never forget is making the Lehigh Valley Prospects tournament team when I was 12. There have been several good moments so far.”

Sugra is confident Rufe still has some big moments ahead. He recently twirled a 79-pitch, three-hit, seven-strikeout outing in a 3-1 win over Allentown Central Catholic, and followed it with an 85-pitch, two-hit, nine strikeout performance in the 5-0 shutout over Whitehall.

“When (Rufe) is on, he is very good,” said Sugra. “Cole has done a really good job in elevating his game. He has worked through a number of games.

“Both of these guys have been very consistent all season, and they have been a big part of our success.”