As they enter the final phase of the season, Northampton’s American Legion entry’s recent packed schedule hasn’t slowed their overall progress.
Instead, they have continued on their steady pace that has kept them near the top of the league standings.
Heading into this week’s play, Northampton had an overall 11-4 record despite playing 11 games over a 14-day period.
They have three games left before the postseason begins.
Through their first five games, Northampton’s Legion baseball team was off to a fast start. Yet, they are well aware that the intensity of the American Legion schedule is about to heat up in the next few weeks.
Due to a combination of rain and district and state playoff games, Northampton played only five games, but they posted an impressive 4-1 mark through the stint. In the process, they did average 10 hits and 9.5 runs per game.
On paper, this appeared to be a transition year for the Konkrete Kids.
They had lost 10 veteran senior players from a team that went 10-10 in the regular season and was eliminated in the opening round of the District 11 playoffs. Hope hung on a handful of returnees and others from a junior varsity team that posted a 17-3 record.
Area prognosticators saw the Kids struggling mightily and finishing last in the always competitive Skyline Division of the East Penn Conference (EPC).
However, the Kids never followed the plan.
Kyle Serman already had seen the scenario.
The senior right-hander has been part of the Northampton pitching staff the past few seasons, and he has faced the struggles against teams in their Skyline Division as well as the other teams in the East Penn Conference.
But this time around Serman realized the outcomes would be different. For Serman, his level of success has heightened in accordance with his team this season.
Northampton will enter the PIAA District 11 Class 6A playoffs facing a familiar opponent, but the Kids know it is a different ballgame.
The Kids will begin district play for the seventh consecutive time under head coach Mick Sugra, hosting Emmaus Wednesday afternoon, after Press deadlines.
For Northampton, unfortunately, the third time wasn’t the time.
The Konkrete Kids met Parkland for the third time this season, this latest time around in the quarterfinal round of the East Penn Conference playoffs Monday afternoon.
The seventh-seeded Kids couldn’t turn the trick, as they fell 4-0 to the second-seeded Trojans. Earlier in their two regular season meetings, the Kids were also blanked on both occasions, 8-0 on April 11, and 3-0 on May 8.
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.”