Although the weather outside was still a little bit frightful, the aura inside was ... delightful.
Old Man Winter kept an icy grip on NEPA this past weekend, but that didn't stop dozens of youngsters from attending the Second Annual Buckhorn Baseball Clinic this weekend.
Under the watchful eye of Wallenpaupack Area Coach Todd Schmalzle, members of the JV and varsity teams spent hours instructing Little Leaguers in the finer points of our American Pastime.
"The kids are doing a great job," Coach Schmalzle said between sessions. "I'm very proud of them for all the hard work they're putting in. We think it's very important to give back to the community and this clinic is a really good way to do that."
Frozen fields and frigid temperatures moved the festivities inside this year, but that didn't diminish the level of enthusiasm in the slightest.
"We're all champing at the bit for the season to get going," Coach Schmalzle said. "There's only so much you can do in the gym and the batting cages. The kids are ready to be outside."
Forward & Back
Paupack suffered through a rough season last spring in the Lackawanna League.
The Buckhorns managed just two wins in a rugged Division One and were eliminated from the District Two tournament in round one by Scranton.
Nevertheless, the Bucks are primed for an exciting 2013 campaign.
"The new divisions will be different," said Coach Schmalzle. "I'm interested to see how that's all going to play out for us."
As in other varsity sports, Paupack will now play its baseball games in Division Two alongside such familiar foes as Honesdale, Western Wayne, Delaware Valley and North Pocono.
The Bucks played their first exhibition contest at Wilson late last week and they came out swinging.
Page 2 of 2 - Paupack pushed across nine runs in the first two innings and also saw some solid pitching performances by veteran hurlers.
James Goetz will be at the forefront of the attack offensively and also anchor the starting rotation.
Goetz is a senior who led the team in hitting a year ago. He's a polished righty on the hill who can throw heat or drop in a nasty curveball on demand.
Alec Babyak and Danny Skibber are both juniors and each is hoping to make a mark on the mound.
"We're expecting big things from James this season," Coach Schmalzle said. "He's definitely our number one guy at this point. But, we also need for Alec and Danny to step up and pitch well."
Brandon Newsome (Sr) is a middle infielder who wasn't on the roster last year. But, the senior is right in the thick of the battle for a starting position and lead-off spot.
Cameron Wolfson (Sr) is the top candidate to bat clean-up and provide a bit of pop. He'll see extensive action at first base.
Mike Henry (Jr) and Joe Budnovitch (Jr) are in a dog fight for the starting catcher's job. However, Coach Schmalzle is very comfortable with either of these talented backstops.
Over & Out
North Pocono was the class of the Lackawanna League in 2012 and the Trojans are early favorites to defend their division and district crowns.
Delaware Valley is also loaded and should be a bona fide player when it comes time to seed for the Class AAAA playoffs.
Paupack's staff is focused on bouncing back from a dismal year, cresting the .500 mark and perhaps even challenging for a title.
"I'm looking forward to the season," said Coach Schmalzle. "This is a hard-working, competitive group of kids. They're going to go out there and battle every inning of every game."