The coaches are excited for a young and hungry group of guys.
Burlington Township High School baseball took a hard hit last year, but they’re ready to get back on their feet. Head coach Jason Stec says the 2016 record of 3–15 does not represent who the team is.
“We are truly excited to prove that we are not a 3–15 team. That record really doesn’t indicate what type of team we can be,” Stec said. “The coaches are excited for a young, hungry group of guys looking to prove themselves.”
The team lost many close games last year after losing almost every starter after the 2015 season. While Stec says the 2015 team will be tough to live up to, he’s confident in this team’s ability.
The team has six starters and seven lettermen returning this year. Senior Zack Evans will return as captain and is expected to be one of the team’s top players.
“He will continue to bat at the top of the order and should provide a spark,” Stec said.
Stec also noted that sophomore Adam Bungarden will be a player to watch.
“He’s hard-working, very coachable and an even nicer kid,” Stec said. “Same can be said for sophomore Marcus White.”
Stec added that with only a few starting seniors, he’s excited to watch the younger players mature over the next few years.
“There are some young players who have gone through some real life-changing events, and the adversity has forced them to become men quicker than they should,” Stec said. “We are proud to see the growth of these kids over the years, and this group in particular will be tough to ever see go.”
Stec, who has been head coach for 11 years, says one of the team’s biggest goals for this season is improving its pitching. Junior T.J. Capetti, who led the team in innings pitched as a sophomore, is expected to be one of the team’s top pitchers this year.
Stec says the team follows the same principle each year — “go out every day and play like it’s your last.”
“Last game, last inning, last at bat, last pitch,” Stec added. “Each game we can reflect on what we did well, and what we need to work on, but in the end, we want to simply just get better and hope we are playing our best ball as the playoffs approach.”
Last season, Stec hit his 100th career win as head coach, making him a school record holder.
Stec says the team has a family atmosphere and ends every practice with a “1, 2, 3, family” cheer. To facilitate family bonding, the team is doing a scavenger hunt throughout March as a team-building activity.
“It gets them to spend time with each other outside of school and baseball, and for the older guys to interact with the younger guys. We need our juniors and seniors to be role models for the younger guys — not just on the field, but how to act off of it,” Stec said.
Stec added that while he doesn’t often tell his players this, winning is secondary and so are sports.
“In student-athlete, the student comes first,” Stec said. “They need to understand that athletics is great in so many ways, but it’s our education and work ethic that will advance us in the world.”