One bad inning.
For the past few weeks, it is the one facet that has troubled the Northampton baseball team.
In three of their four defeats, the Konkrete Kids have been victimized by the one inning that could easily reverse their record from 5-4 to 8-1.
“It has been 18 of 21 innings,” reflected Kids’ head coach Mick Sugra. “It is a one-run inning. We’re controlling it by putting guys on base. We have to be able to recognize when it happens. We won 18 of the 21 innings.
“It has been a roller coaster for us.”
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.”
When they dropped a pair of consecutive games to Emmaus and Allentown Central Catholic, Northampton’s baseball team suddenly had its momentum stopped.
However, the Kids rebounded with an impressive 10-0 win over Dieruff Monday, but they couldn’t stay on track as they dropped a 6-3 decision to Parkland Tuesday.
After they won their first three games in impressive fashion, the Kids now have lost three of their last four games (4-3).
The Kids suffered consecutive defeats, a 10-0 defeat to Emmaus and a 7-2 defeat to Central Catholic.
So far, Northampton’s baseball team couldn’t ask for anything more.
The Konkrete Kids are off to a 3-0 start and have did it in grand fashion. They have outscored their opponents, 38-2, and already have squelched any preseason doubts.
Their last win was a 10-0, five-inning, one-hit, victory over rival Catasauqua in which Cole Rufe and Jared Hunsberger combined for the shutout. Rufe struck out 11, and he and Hunsberger held the Roughies without a hit for eight innings.
Like most teams, Northampton has its doubts about opening the season after having its outdoor practice time reduced to the series of uncharacteristic snow storms during March.
After their opening-game performance, their fears can be put to rest.
The Konkrete Kids had a solid, overall team effort in a five-inning, shortened 13-2 victory over North Pocono Monday afternoon.
Northampton’s and Catasauqua’s baseball seasons got underway Monday afternoon, but it certainly was a long journey to get there.
The series of nor’easter snow storms that rocked the Lehigh Valley and beyond during the month of March placed practice schedules in a state of frenzy and pushed back scheduled starting dates nearly a week.
It will yet to be seen how the sudden and untimely winter weather will affect timing of hitters and pitchers as well as cause havoc on the sprinters and throwers.
Northampton baseball coach Mick Sugra likely is to remember one moment of the season before it even began.
Last Sunday, the Konkrete Kids hosted a youth clinic in which current players taught and worked with elementary-age students.
“The younger kids look up to the high school players as role models,” said Sugra. “That’s where it all starts. A connection is made there and it keep going.”
As a sophomore, Zach Gula figured it was time to take his game to the next level.
After a productive summer, Gula was in the running for one of the Konkrete Kids’ starting positions after a number of them had been created due to graduation.
He took the initiative and never looked back.
Heading into the final phase of the season, Northampton knew what it needed to do to secure itself a better playoff seeding.
They did just that.
Northampton’s boys basketball season was a myriad of highlights, some that may not be achieved for some time.
There was a 13-game winning streak that clinched an early district berth, the lone East Penn Conference team to beat Bethlehem Catholic during the regular season with a buzzer beater, and an appearance in a district championship game for the first time in 45 years among other events that dotted the season.