For many high school sports, the club season often leads into the scholastic season.
In the summer, there’s club soccer and volleyball and AAU basketball that lead into the high school calendar.
Baseball is different.
High school play runs from late March through May for most programs. When the scholastic season ends, many players move on to either adult teams, travel teams or American Legion ball.
So, it’s not unusual for a team that was average during the high school season to suddenly turn it on when the summer comes around.
During the high school season, Dover had a good, but not great campaign, going 12-8 overall and barely missing out on the District 3 playoffs.
Since the Legion season started, however, Dover has been unbeatable, going 4-0. That mark has Post 791 atop the West Division standings in the reconfigured York-Adams American Legion League.
“All around we’re playing pretty good,” Dover manager Bryce Smith said. “I really couldn’t ask for much more.”
As a team, Smith's squad is hitting .292 while averaging better than eight runs a contest. Not to be outdone, the pitching staff is sporting an ERA of just 1.50 while fanning a batter an inning. They've outscored their four foes, 33-7.
“We’re hitting, especially in the clutch,” said Smith, who is in his third season at the helm. “We’re scoring a lot of our runs with two outs.”
Pitchers excelling: Smith, however, couldn’t hold back praise for the job his pitching staff has done so far. With Shane Haffner, who was the ace of the Dover High School pitching staff this spring, unavailable to pitch so far this year, Smith has seen nothing but good things from his short-handed crew.
“The pitching, to be honest with you, has just been outstanding,” Smith said. “Every one of our starters has gone at least six innings in every single game. And they’re keeping their pitch counts low.”
That last part was a big nemesis for most high school teams this spring. Often having to play three, four or even five games in a week, pitch counts were certainly no friend of high school coaches.
Smith’s staff, however, has kept things relatively smooth for their skipper, who is the youngest manager in the league at 21.
Zack Copp has earned half of his team’s wins so far. Copp has fanned 13 batters in 13 innings while allowing three runs and four walks. He pitched a complete-game shutout against South Western to start the season.
Nathan Ifkovitis was spectacular in his only start, fanning nine en route to a shutout victory in a 9-0 triumph over Spring Grove.
Smith, however, highlighted Nathan Chronister as the team’s spark plug so far this year. As the team’s leadoff hitter, Chronister is batting a sizzling .700 (7-for-10) while scoring nine runs. On the mound Chronister has been just as effective, pitching 6 2/3 innings to pick up the victory in a 7-4 triumph over New Oxford last week.
“Nate has been pretty lights out for me right now,” Smith said of Chronister, who played high school ball at York Tech. “But, honestly, the rest of the team is hitting pretty well too.”
Aiming for regional berth: If things continue to go as they have so far, Smith is hopeful that his team will be in contention for the Y-A League’s second berth into the Region IV Tournament next month held in Hanover. As the host team, Hanover already has secured the other berth in the bracket from the league.
“I just hope that they continue getting better,” Smith said. “I knew in high school it was kind of cold in the beginning and it took a while for them to get loose. Now they’re playing more and more baseball and I think that’s what’s helping them improve.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.