BASEBALL: Coach of the Year, Karl Reisner leads Mercersburg Academy to surprising season
Mercersburg Academy's baseball team went into the 2015 season with modest expectations, but Karl Reisner's final season at the helm was never meant to be a quiet one.
In his 25th season as the head coach, Reisner led the Blue Storm to a ferocious 10-0 start and made it to the second round of the PAISAA Playoffs before ending the season with a 19-6 record. He is the Public Opinion Baseball Coach of the Year.
In the season preview, Reisner said he would be happy if the team finished with a .500 record in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League – Mercersburg was 7-3 in the league and was the co-champion.
"This team had such a positive attitude, and they just found ways to win," Reisner said. "We didn't really have any superstars, but we had a great outfield, some solid contact hitters and we didn't beat ourselves too much in the field."
Early in the season, Reisner wasn't sure if his team was legit, but that all changed after a doubleheader at Blair.
The Storm went into the games with a 6-0 record and came out still unscathed, beating the Buccaneers 4-0 and 4-3.
Reisner said, "We were going up against possibly the most talented team in our division, and on top of that we had to make a 3 1/2 hour trip. We were at a huge disadvantage, but when we came out of there with a pair of wins, I told my assistant coach that this team could be better than we thought."
Reisner has made a career of finding and maximizing talent. He took over the Storm in 1990, and in just six short seasons, he turned the team into a perennial powerhouse. Mercersburg hasn't had a losing season since 1995, and in Reisner's 25 years, the Blue Storm have won 16 conference titles and four independent school state titles (1998, 2001, '05 and '07).
"We built this program from the bottom up, and we've never had the same type of team," said Reisner. "Two years ago, we had a lot of power and played for the big inning, but this year, we had to scratch for runs and really pull out some close games.
"Since I've started here, we've tried to mold the mind set into these kids that if you play the game the right way, you will be rewarded. We believe that we can beat anybody, we play with class and we play with confidence. Not cockiness, but confidence. We've always tried to be a class act."
Reisner was given the nickname Ripper after yelling "rip city" when his players would hit hard line drives – his golden retriever is also called Ripper. And while Reisner won't be shouting from the dugout anymore, his name will always be associated with Mercersburg baseball.
"I really don't think it will hit me until September when I don't have to be at the school. I'm really not comfortable being the center of attention, but it seems like every night here this past week I've been at some kind of dinner. I'm just trying to blend in," Reisner said with a laugh.
Reisner also coached a pair of players who are currently playing professionally. Josh Edgin pitched well in relief for the New York Mets last year, but is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Christian Binford is pitching for the Kansas City Royals' AAA team, the Omaha Storm Chasers.
"It's really cool to know that somebody I coached is in the MLB, but I think my best memory is that first state championship," Reisner said. "That was like our arrival. We went from a joke to a team that was respected, and it's been the case ever since."