Zephyrs hoping to move on in districts
Whitehall head baseball coach Eric Schmitt watched his team battle through a rash of injuries all season long, and limp their way to a district playoff berth.
When they began play – after just missing a spot last year – Tuesday in the Class 5A bracket at Pleasant Valley, which comes after Press deadlines, Schmitt was as confident as he would have been at the beginning of the season.
The fifth-seeded Zephyrs finished the regular season with a 10-10 mark after they started out with a 6-2 spurt. Their win over Wyoming Valley West in their season finale snapped a four-game losing streak.
“I feel like we can compete and beat any team that we will face,” beamed Schmitt. “We feel pretty confident now and we are healthy. We have some guys who have battled through injuries and sore arms, but they are ready to go. We had some guys in concussion protocol, but they have been cleared.
“I feel we can beat any team in our area.”
The Zephyrs did prepare for their district berth with scrimmage victories over Wilson (16-1) and Palmerton (9-3).
“It was a good tuneup for us,” said Schmitt. “Those schools are smaller than us, and I didn’t put a lot of stock in those wins. It was better for us to lace up our sneakers and face a team rather than scrimmage against ourselves.
Schmitt did lament the loss of junior pitcher Evan Kovalchik, who went down with an elbow injury. His initial diagnosis has him possibly missing his senior year as well due to the injury. Kovalchik was 2-2 with a 5.00 ERA and had a team-high 37 strikeouts.
“He was our number one pitcher, and he may never throw again for Whitehall,” said Schmitt. “He may not be able to throw for a year-and-a-half. It is very unfortunate for him and the team.
“It will be a tough break if he has to miss his senior year.”
Fourth-seeded Pleasant Valley came into the contest with an overall 12-8 record, and they won four of their last five games. They defeated Whitehall, 7-2, on April 11.
“That was a game we probably should have won,” said Schmitt. “They had some wind-aided balls that helped them.
“But they are a good team with two good pitchers and a good shortstop. We just need to come out and play our game.
As far as numbers, Owen Ness led the team with a .367 batting average, and Kovalchik hit. 321. Dylan Koury had a team-high 15 RBIs and Ness added 13. Seth Hoderewski had five stolen bases.
On the mound, Dylan Carfara was 3-1 with a team-low 3.50 ERA, and Tyler Mastropieri was 3-4 with a 5.25 ERA. The Zephyrs will lose six seniors from the current roster.
“We knew what we could,” added Schmitt. “We will lose some key people, but the rest of the team grew this year.”