Connie Mack team off to nice start
Catasauqua Connie Mack coach Jim Kober kept his expectations in check in reference to his 2017 team.
The Roughies began the year losing a number of players from a team that finished fifth in the state last season. On the surface, it was a team that was primarily comprised of eighth graders coupled with mostly freshmen.
Fortunately, the Roughies didn’t follow the format.
Through their first six games, Catasauqua had a 4-2 record in the Lehigh Valley Connie Mack (LVCM) League and was among the league leaders.
So far, it has been a fast maturation.
“We only had three kids returning from last year,” said Kober. “We had a very good run last year.
“This year, we are very, very young. We have a number of eighth graders and freshmen and we really didn’t expect much. But they are playing extremely well.”
The Roughies also got a boost with the addition of junior Zach Bilder, who has been double rostering with the Coplay Legion team.
Bilder, who developed into one of the area’s top hurlers during the recent varsity season, won two games and hadn’t issued an earned run in 13 innings with 21 strikeouts.
“He’s dominated,” said Kober of Bilder. “He is one of the best pitchers in the Lehigh Valley right now. We’ll see how long we can have him.”
When they have Bilder’s role reversed, Kober is confident with his pitching, as he has as many as seven players who can throw. Eighth-grader Brayden D’Amico (1-0, 3.50 ERA, 8 strikeouts in 10 innings) is among the crop of young, impressive arms.
Offensively, Andrew Martinez is leading the way with a .455 average. Others out to a good start are Bilder (.429), Jayden June (.416), Adam Reinhart (.316), and Cole Schiffer (.313).
Schiffer also has received high marks for his play behind the plate.
“Cole (Schiffer) is a solid catcher for us,” said Kober. “He has been a sponge behind the plate and has really sucked everything up.”
Still, Kober knows his young team could experience a letdown along the way. Even if it does happen, the Roughies already are ahead of the curve.
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “They will have to battle through some things. This is the first time a lot of them are playing with 90 foot bases.
“ I really thought we would win about four games this year. To have four (wins) already, we have exceeded all expectations. We’re just looking for improvement at the end of the year. But, we’re happy so far.”