The Trojans hope the weather will finally give them a break
North Pocono's varsity baseball team appeared to be going nowhere for the vast majority of the 2016 season.
The Trojans scratched and clawed their way to a 6-6 Lackawanna League record, finishing third in the Division II standings behind Delaware Valley (12-0) and Wallenpaupack Area (8-4).
However, Coach Brian Jardine's squad was just biding its time … waiting for the perfect moment to rise up and shock all of their many naysayers.
“I always knew that we had the talent and that the pieces were all there,” said Coach Jardine.
“We just had so many issues and injuries in the early going. I honestly don't think we were at full strength until halfway through the season.”
North Pocono earned a three seed in the District Two tournament and promptly caught fire.
After an opening round bye, the Trojans reeled off three straight wins en route to the Class AAA crown.
And, the championship game was one for the books … an epic 11-inning victory over Valley View that ended with a 1-0 score.
“We're almost a year removed from that game and I still have people come up to me and say: 'That was the greatest high school baseball game I've seen in my life,'” said Coach Jardine with a laugh.
“I know that I'll never forget it, that's for sure.”
The local lads were able to enjoy that win for a week before amping it up once again for the PIAA state tournament. There, they went on another run with two more wins.
Coach Jardine's squad defeated Selinsgrove (3-2) and Radnor (5-0) before finally falling to Susquehanna Township in the AAA semifinals, 1-0.
“It was just a fantastic experience,” Coach Jardine said. “That was an amazing run. We got great leadership from some of our older kids and a couple of our young pitchers really stepped up. It was great to see.”
North Pocono is in the same boat as most other local teams this spring.
The Trojans have had almost zero practice time on any type of field and are just champing at the bit to get outside.
“I've been doing this for a long time now, but it's still frustrating,” Coach Jardine said. “There's only so many drills we can do in the gym or in the parking lot.
“But, the kids have been great. They're working hard, not just going through the motions.”
Fortunately, the local lads were scheduled to get out on Wednesday afternoon with a non-league away game at Northampton.
Weather permitting, the Trojans will travel to Dallas on Friday, then prepare for their Lackawanna League opener versus Valley View on Thursday, April 6.
“I'm excited for the season and so are the kids,” Coach Jardine said. “I can't wait to get out there and see what we can do.”
Ryan Deom and Cory Wall were two of those young pitchers who came up big during North Pocono's run to the state semifinals in 2016.
Deom is a sophomore, Wall is a junior and both are expected to play major roles in this year's Trojan rotation. They'll be joined on the hill by juniors Tony Donato, Nate McLain and Ben Cruciani.
“This is a veteran group and a bunch of these kids throw very hard,” Coach Jardine said. “We're going to need every one of them to step up and shoulder some of the load.”
Any discussion of this year's North Pocono squad must begin with a trio of battle-tested veterans.
Gary Woloszyn, Pat Kravitz and Pat Noon will be looked to for leadership on and off the field. All are seniors and each brings at least three years of varsity experience to the table.
Woloszyn will once again man first base and hit in the middle of the order. Kravitz is the team's slick fielding shortstop. Noon patrols centerfield and returns as the lead-off batter.
“These three are the type of kids every coach wants,” Jardine said. “They set a great example for our younger kids every day at practice.”
If Mother Nature deigns to cooperate, North Pocono will be playing 12 league games this spring.
The Trojans will compete in a newly-reconfigured Division II. They'll go head-to-head with Abington and Wallenpaupack Area, playing each team three times in one week.
In addition, the local lads face six single crossover games against the likes of Scranton Prep, Delaware Valley, West Scranton, Honesdale and Valley View
“It should be interesting,” Coach Jardine conceded. “Pitching is so important in high school baseball and this kind of schedule will challenge every team.”