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South Parkland Jr. Connie Mack caps 12-4 season

The Lehigh Valley South Parkland Junior Connie Mack team recently concluded a 12-4 regular season and a 10-8 playoff game loss to Jim Thorpe as the league’s No. 2 seed.

The defeat was not without resilience on the Trojans’ part. Down eight runs in the fourth inning, South Parkland mounted a fierce comeback.

The Trojans plated runs off the bats of Jake Strobl, Sam Ciampittiello, Joshua Collins, Nathan Powers and a walk by Ryder Williams, which forced in a run. Ciampittiello drove in three runs and Carter Wannamaker twirled a magical stick, going 3-for-3, while Ciampittiello and Williams had two base knocks each.

Most impressive was the club’s base stealing prowess, as they swiped no less than nine of them.

The disappointment associated with the postseason defeat did not undermine a fine season for coach Christopher Strobl’s chargers.

“Coaching this particular team has been a lot of fun,” Strobl said. “They are a great group of young men and they have many years of baseball ahead of them.”

Lehigh Valley Junior Connie Mack consists of boys ages 13 through 14. The age range is optimal to teach the sport, Strobl said.

“This is a great age to coach,” Strobl said. “We still drill the fundamentals at each practice, but as a team we can work on some more advanced skills related to their position in the field.”

Strobl did not lead the team alone. Assistants Greg Collins, Jason Faucon, Don Friday and Sheldon Streeter helped lead the players on the diamond this spring and summer. For Strobl, coaching is a way of giving back.

“Playing baseball with my buddies are some of my best memories,” Strobl said. “I want these young men to experience the same things I did. Learning how to be a great teammate is something that will carry over for these young men for years to come.”

The South Parkland Youth Association has developed many fine baseball players and it hasn’t been by accident. A youngster can start learning the sport at age four. Kids play T-ball for two years, then progress into Prep, followed by Minors, which is coach pitch. After Minors, the boys take the field in Biddy - which is player pitch - around age nine. After two years of Biddy, players progress into Midget ball, which is for ages 11 through 12.

Once boys turn 13, they can either play Knee-Hi or Junior Connie Mack ball. That’s similar to when they enter high school, as they can play Senior Connie Mack or Senior Legion.

“Placement on certain teams, starting as early as Biddy, is based on an evaluation system,” the coach said.

This year’s Trojan Junior Connie Mack squad featured Ryan Campbell, Gabe Chase, Sam Ciampittiello, Joshua Collins, Carson Faucon, Eric Friday, Nolan Parsell, Blake Peters, Nate Powers, Jack Streeter, Jake Strobl, Carter Wanamaker, Ryder Williams and Riley Zimmerman.