Spring high school sports will have to act fast.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for most high school sports in the state, condensed the seasons this academic year, mainly to give a longer break in between for multi-sport athletes. Winter sports ended March 4, but most teams were done before that if they missed playoffs.
Baseball and softball pitchers and catchers started practicing Monday. Tryouts and other players started Thursday. In previous years, most teams were allowed to start practicing the first Friday of March. This year, teams lost almost two weeks of preparation, and most scrimmages will not start until a week before the regular season.
“With the new rules, we don’t have much time,” Egg Harbor Township baseball coach Bryan Carmichael said. The Eagles will start their scrimmages March 22 when they have six games in three days in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. EHT opens the season April 3 at Ocean City.
People are also reading…
The Eagles will bring as many players as possible to Myrtle Beach. The facility the team will stay at has multiple batting cages and practice areas. When EHT isn’t playing, it can still get in extra training during a very shortened preseason. Carmichael called it a “business trip,” and the Eagles will be at the facility or ballpark for nine to 10 hours each day.
“We are 13 days behind from what it used to be,” Carmichael said. “We lost 13 days of preparing. It’s very tough. We have to get through three days of tryouts and then you have your scrimmages. So, that’s why we decided to go down to Myrtle Beach. We are kind of treating it like a training camp.”
The Cedar Creek boys lacrosse team started practice Wednesday. The Pirates’ first scrimmage is March 27 at Triton Regional, and they will open their season less than a week later.
The shortened preseason will be tough at first for most sports.
“It’s a very short preseason, so we are really getting into it,” Cedar Creek coach George Cappuccio said. “It’s going to be tough, but it should be interesting. I’m just excited to get started. It will be tough to get the offense going, but we still have our scrimmages. It means we have to put some work in on Saturdays or have longer practices, but other than that I think we will be ready.
“Everyone is in that same boat. We all have that kind of time, so it evens out.”
Last season, the Hammonton softball team advanced to the South Jersey Group III semifinals. The Blue Devils graduated two — second baseman Krista Tzaferos and pitcher April Lewandowski — and returned almost the entire team. Even though those two will be hard to replace, the Blue Devils return Ava Divello, Riley Lancaster, Alexa Panagopoylos, Sophia Vento, Victoria Esau, Ava Livingston, Jadyn Barker and Gracie Ravenkamp after good seasons.
The Blue Devils had about 35 to 40 athletes come out for the team this year. Coach Eric Schulman said he’s pleased with the team so far. A few were on the senior trip this week, so that gave the coaching staff the time to work with the younger players.
“We always expect to compete,” Schulman said. “I think our kids know we set high expectations. It doesn’t matter who steps in through the door, when you become part of this program you are expected to compete for a Cape-Atlantic League and South Jersey Group III title.
“It’s an exciting time of year. The way last year ended with Delsea beating us (in the sectional semifinals), we want to get back on the field and give ourselves an opportunity to get back there.”
Just like EHT, Hammonton’s pitchers and catchers have practiced inside Monday through Wednesday. The Blue Devils will eventually get outside with the entire team when the weather is nice enough, Schulman said.
“But this time of year we rather err on the side of caution,” Schulman said.
EHT had its tryouts outside Thursday. The Eagles return about nine starters, including senior pitchers Cameron Flukey and Justin Sweeney. Jacob Cagna, Jason Salsbery and Joey Velardi are other key players.
“Our expectations are always the same,” said Carmichael, who last spring led his team to the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic and South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals.
For Cedar Creek and other lacrosse teams, practicing outside in the elements is a good thing, and Cappuccio did not hesitate to say his players are going outside right away. Lacrosse is sometimes played in poor weather or field conditions.
Attackman Jason Bishop and midfielder Evan Scholder are top returners.
“It’s always a fun thing to start the new season and get back outside again,” Cappuccio said. “Unless they make us come inside, we are outside.”
Contact Patrick Mulranen: 609-272-7217
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.