Mike Ettl began this season as a member of the Northampton baseball team with a simple philosophy.
“I just want to throw strikes,” said the junior hurler. “I’m not always worrying about striking people out. I’m just always thinking strikes.”
His motto has had residual effect for him and his team. Ettl threw six impressive, four-hit shutout innings in a 5-0 win over Allen April 13. It was his third win of the season in as many outings at the time, as he has worked with a fastball, curveball and slider in his arsenal, his fastball being clocked at nearly 80.
For the most part, Northampton has had the typical storybook season.
Since the start of the year, the Konkrete Kids quietly have gone about their business in the way of a cleverly disguised sniper, as they effectively and efficiently picked off opponents in their much-embattled Skyline Division of the East Penn Conference (EPC) as well as knocking off perennial powers, who have dominated them in the past.
As a result, the Kids continue to firmly establish their presence in the EPC and the District 11 Class 6A race, further solidifying an upper echelon berth.
Last season as a freshman, Devon Britton had a feeling that his teammates could reach some new heights this year. It was just a matter of going out and doing his job.
That role wasn’t anything new for Britton. He embodies the motto, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.”
Over the past two years, Britton rapidly has made his mark with Northampton baseball as well as the wrestling and golf programs. In wrestling, Britton already is a two-time state qualifier.
Throughout his baseball career, Brittain Shander has managed to stay within the fundamentals.
The Northampton junior is witnessing how his approach is paying dividends for him and his team this season.
“I just try to keep it simple and keep my balance,” said Shander in reference to his batting stance. “I just go out there and try as hard as I can. I haven’t really tried anything new. I just try to hit the ball as square as I can.”
Jared Angerman knew something wasn’t quite right with the team last year.
The current Northampton senior believed last year’s senior players weren’t all that comfortable with their roles on the team.
“The seniors were really nervous for whatever reason about last year,” Angerman said. “They just didn’t seem comfortable. I don’t know how much it affected the team. But the seniors this year are ready to take this team to the next level.”
Northampton’s baseball team got the start that it needed. And the Konkrete Kids did it in grand fashion.
Heading into this weeks’ play, the Kids began with a 2-0 record due to two lopsided wins. They opened with a convincing 9-3 win over perennial playoff power North Pocono and followed with a 12-1 rout of East Stroudsburg North.
More importantly, it gave the Kids a sturdy cushion to start their always ultracompetitive East Penn Conference play.
With a new cast ready to take the field, Northampton’s baseball team is optimistic they again can remain a headliner.
However, the Konkrete Kids likely will see their results surface later in the season.
Northampton will enter the 2017 campaign with the loss of 10 seniors to graduation in June, two of the more prominent being three-year infield starters Will Stackhouse and catcher Ian Luberti.
For the Northampton hockey team, it was a matter of getting to the postseason. In the end, however, the Konkrete Kids reached a high goal.
The Kids not only qualified for the postseason, but they also advanced to the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL) championship round.
Unfortunately, the Kids dropped the first two games to defending champion Parkland in a best-of-three series.
Northampton lost 5-4 in the opening game and then 6-3 in the second game.
Still, it was a victory despite the defeat.
Northampton boys’ basketball coach Coy Stampone knew the feeling about how close his team came to clinching a district playoff spot this winter. His team fell a game short last season.
Again, the Konkrete Kids were in striking distance this winter, but they couldn’t close the deal.
The Kids finished the regular season with a 9-13 record and also were a game away from clinching one of the eight district spots in the Class 6A bracket. They were in a must-win situation at Parkland Feb. 8, but they dropped a 59-47 decision.
Northampton’s hockey entry in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL) recently reached a major goal, and it was well worth it.
The Konkrete Kids will enter the upcoming LVSHL playoffs after they missed last year’s round for the first time in 15 seasons. They are currently in a three-way, tie for second place with Central/Beca and Southern Lehigh with 17 points.
Regardless of where they finish – they have one game left against Central/Beca on Feb. 22, the Kids will be one of four teams in the mix.