NV makes deep Connie Mack run
In its seven years of existence, the Northern Valley Connie Mack baseball team has certainly had its share of memorable campaigns. But few seasons have produced a better record than this year's squad. In fact, only one Chargers team had a longer run in states.
Following a 14-4 record in regular season, which awarded Northern Valley the No. 3 seed in the Lehigh Valley playoffs, the Chargers' 2-0 series win over Coplay advanced them into states once again. Once there, Northern Valley won two of their four games and was the final Lehigh Valley team standing along with five Bux-Mont League teams.
"We ended up finishing 18-6, which included the state playoffs," coach Erich Klein said. "Finishing fifth in the state tournament out of 35 teams I don't think is a bad deal.
"We had a strong year. We never lost two games in a row the whole year. I was honestly worried about our pitching, but I knew I had hitters. Last year, I kept pretty much a whole junior legion-aged team and we had a decent year last year with a young team. Legion only pulled like four kids from me this year."
Northern Valley opened the state tournament with a quick 16-6 loss to Warminster, but the Chargers never lost an ounce of confidence. The Chargers responded with wins over Central Vikings (1-0) and Hellertown (12-8), the Lehigh Valley's champion, which set up a date with Lenape Valley.
It was that willingness to never give up that drove the Chargers all season long.
"We never quit," Klein said. "We won five games in the last two innings which kind of gave us that 14-4 [regular season] record. There were games where I know other people might have thought we were done, but the attitude of these kids is that they'll never give up."
The Chargers had their chances against Lenape Valley last Wednesday, but Northern Valley wasn't able to take advantage of scoring opportunities in their 6-4 defeat.
"We were tied in the fourth inning, [but] we just didn't hit enough," Klein said. "We didn't hit well with runners in scoring position. We just ran out of outs at the end. We had plenty of chances to win that game and advance one more day."
While Klein returned most of last year's Connie Mack squad this summer, he'll be faced with a heftier challenge when 2016 hits. Of the team's current 17 players, nine are no longer eligible to play Connie Mack.
Zach Stanley, Nico Fager, Zachary Rex, Evan Meixsell and Dakota Laudenslager were all second-year players for Klein, who guided Northern Valley to a season for the history books. But a number of first-year players, including Austin Hemingway and Jacob Kistler, hope to make next year a rather smooth transition.
"We developed into a good team over a two-month span," Klein said. "Early on we had the people to do it, but we knew we needed to forge into a good team to make it work. And we did."