Greencastle baseball finds early success with new talent
New varsity team. New attitude.
G-A baseball has cultivated a winning culture the last few years, which looked like it may have peaked last season because a majority of the talent graduated. But with virtually a brand new varsity roster - with just five returners - the Blue Devils are keeping the tradition alive.
Through the first two weeks of the season Greencastle is the only area baseball team to remain undefeated, at 4-0, and triumphed in a tough three-game slate last week, taking down Chambersburg and a pair of Mid Penn Colonial Division and area rivals, James Buchanan and Shippensburg in back-to-back-to-back games.
"Three games in a row, it puts so much on pitchers and they have to respond," Greencastle coach Eric Shaner said. "It wasn't always pretty, but we were resilient."
Greecnastle took down Chambersburg 5-1, then claimed a dominant 12-4 win over James Buchanan, which is expected to be one of the better teams in the Colonial Division, and played a smart game against Shippensburg in a 6-4 win Wednesday.
"For a group that is a totally new varsity team, essentially, you expect them to pucker a little bit and they haven't yet," Shaner said. "I'm very proud of the way they responded. This team is really great at supporting each other, they root for one another and they to have each others' back and when you do, you play a little bit freer."
That "family attitude" helped senior pitcher Noah Brown to a win in his varsity debut against Shippensburg, despite walking five batters in the first three innings.
"In the beginning I was really nervous," Brown said, "Coach (Mike) Ensminger and Caleb (Schaeffer) really picked me up, and I couldn't have done it without my defense behind me."
That defense, which has limited opposing teams to just 13 runs so far this season, combined with a powerful hitting crew that has already put up 37 runs through the first two weeks.
"The confidence, to be honest, isn't really high. This is the most humble team," Brown said. "We are the biggest family you'll ever meet. A lot of guys, when you go out to play high school ball, you're looking for scouts, and you're looking for colleges, but we are just looking for the next game.
"Three games a week - four games a week, it doesn't matter, we are just there to play. We beg for games. We beg for 21 outs. We beg for hits. We go out there and we fight all seven innings. We play as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team."
The Blue Devils have already seen multi-RBI games from seven players, five of whom were not on the varsity roster last season, but veteran Cade Bender is leading the offense with six RBIs through the first four games. Jimmy Beavers, Cade McDowell, Evan Maun, Brown, Cade Marshall and Tanner Rock have all highlighted the Greencastle offense through the first four games. Among them, Rock was the only returning varsity player.
"We know compared to last year there are a lot of new kids, so it's a lot of work instead of just coming into the season with the talent and everything being there," Bender said. "There is a lot of stuff to work on and we know we have to play as a team to win games, but I think the more we play with each other the better we are going to be."