Wallenpaupack Area's junior high baseball team is back on the diamond
The past two years have been very good for the Wallenpaupack Area junior high school baseball team.
The young Buckhorns captured back-to-back division titles thanks to a slew of talented players and a dedicated coaching staff.
However, things change.
The name of the game in junior high baseball is “development,” and the Paupack program certainly accomplished its goal as several of last season’s 8th graders have moved on not only to the high school team but are playing at the varsity level as freshmen.
Now, Manager Jerry Capone and his coaching staff are tasked with bringing up a new crew of players and getting them ready for bigger and better things when it’s their time to move on.
Back to Basics
“Last year we started eight 8th graders,” Capone said, “But, this year, we only have three.”
Peter Lynch is the only returning starter and captains the club.
Classmates Kevin Bond and Brady Reynolds, both of whom played last season, are on board as co-captains as well.
While this batch of Buckhorns may lack some experience, things aren’t exactly bleak.
Garrett Hitchcock, Coach Capone reports, is the starting left fielder and is one of the club’s best hitters, and Zach Jantzi doubled on his first at bat this season.
“Most of our players are coming straight out of Little League,” said Capone.
“The bigger field, the further distance between bases, and the level of experience of some of our opponents are all new things for these kids, but our kids aren’t getting discouraged.”
The Purple & White eked out a 3-3 tie with Carbondale in a pre-season match-up but took a hard 10-0 loss to Honesdale in the regular season opener.
While they weren’t shut out against Carbondale in their league game versus the Chargers, the Buckhorns suffered an 11-3 loss.
“Carbondale hit well early,” Capone said. “As the game went on, we just couldn’t get a break.”
Coach Capone chalks the club’s inexperience as a major challenge but also knows that there’s some nervousness in the mix as well.
To help overcome the anxiety of the newness of this level of play, the Buckhorns meet up every Saturday for an intra-squad game.
Playing against their own teammates, the Paupack skipper feels, alleviates the pressure to perform that a league game brings, but at the same time exposes the team to the variety of situations the team would face in a real game.
It might be a rough road for the Buckhorns for a while, but the experience they might be short on now, they’ll pick-up in a rather short time.
The team has a packed schedule and faces some stiff competition.
This coming week, they are away at Delaware Valley on 4/15 and North Pocono 4/17 but are slated to face Mountain View at home on 4/18.
They travel to Honesdale on 4/24 and welcome DV on 4/26. They have an exhibition game at Pittston Area on 4/29 at 4:15 p.m. and stay on the road as the next month begins with games at Western Wayne on 5/1 and Ding-Del on 5/3.
The Buckhorns close at home against North Pocono on 5/5 before heading back to Honesdale on 5/11 at 9 a.m. for the Future Stars Tournament.
First pitch for all league games goes off at 4:30 p.m.