Finding its groove
Sports Editor After winning the L-L League title in 2010, many (me included) thought it would be a slam dunk for the Ephrata High School baseball team to repeat as champs this past Spring. And there was one main reason for optimism.
Ephrata returned virtually its entire lineup from the ’10 championship team with the exception of Madison Zimmerman, who was their top pitcher. If Ephrata could make up for his absence, it really was a no-brainer for ’11.
Well, as we know now, the Mounts did not win an L-L crown this past spring. While they did win another section title, Ephrata could not put together another post-season run.
And pitching wasn’t really the issue. The emergence of Evan Young and Dusten Rutt more than gave them enough quality arms to compete. Yet, the Mounts went one-and-out in both the L-L League and District playoffs.
For whatever reason, offensively, one through nine, the Mounts just weren’t that well-oiled machine we were used to seeing one year earlier.
And it carried over into the legion season. Ephrata slumped out of the gates, limping out to a 1-4 start. I remember talking to first-year Coach Derek Sipe at that point, and was impressed by the fact that despite his team’s record, he remained optimistic that they could turn it around.
I didn’t see it, but he saw something he liked, and after a win over Lancaster on June 12, this team began to show flashes of 2010. And they’ve been on a roll ever since.
Last night’s championship game win over CV improved Ephrata’s legion mark to 14-5. That’s 13 of the last 14 games that ended with a win. Very impressive.
And to me the key has been the lineup. One through nine, they have found their collective strokes and have become a very potent offensive ball club.
Defensively, they always play defense. And their pitching has been solid, if not spectacular, as of late. There are no flame throwers in the bunch, but they all are very crafty and know how to pitch.
And let’s not forget the job Sipe has done. Just a couple years removed from college, he looks like he’s been doing this for 20 years. And it’s obvious this team has thrived under him.
Those are all the ingredients of a championship team. They knew from previous years, that they had another title in them. It just took a little while to find their groove.
And now that they have it, with a District 10 title in their pockets, there is no telling how far this team could go. It certainly does get tougher from here, as the competition gets stronger and the games will tax pitching even more since they will play nine innings from here on out.
But somehow, after watching this team on their way to their latest title, they’ll find a way to pick each other up. If the pitchers are throwing well, the hitters will pick up the slack. And vice-versa.
It’s what championship teams do.
It certainly has been fun to watch, and I hope it can carry over into regionals and beyond. I must say I’ve enjoyed covering this team as much as any since I’ve been here.
And it’s obvious that these guys are enjoying it as much as me.
On to regionals. More RUTH, page B-2