Mihalik looks forward to fourth season at helm
Mike Mihalik enters his fourth season as the head coach of the Emmaus varsity baseball team. That means this year’s seniors are the first group of players that he’s had all the way through their high school careers. After losing a number of key players to graduation, Mihalik will lean heavily on seniors Adam LeMaster, Evan Marushak, Ryan Kayse, Brendan Lynch and Gunnar Schichtl for production this season.
While the team hasn’t had an influx of young players, some of the seniors haven’t been regulars because they were blocked by older players. That leaves some inexperience with the team, but nothing that’s causing any concern for Mihalik.
“The youngest guy we have on varsity is Wyatt [Henseler, sophomore], so we didn’t get any younger from last year,” he saidh. “But we do have some guys coming up from JV that will get their first taste of varsity and some guys that are seniors this year who were blocked by older players last year and they’ll get a chance this year.”
Whether it’s offensively or on the mound, the team will look to senior Adam LeMaster to continue his development. LeMaster will be at first base when he’s not pitching and will provide a pretty solid anchor to the Hornets lineup.
“Adam has been a fun project and he’s improved so much over four years and has made some changes that he deserves the credit for making,” said Mihalik. “He has the potential to be a major force for us if he throws like he did last year and he swings the bat really well. He’s a game-changer. The good news is that we’ve got a couple guys who are game-changers with their arms and their bats. Wyatt Henseler and Kellan Tulio and Evan Marushak can do some damage with the bat and that opens the door for some of the other guys who aren’t going to get the attention up front. They’ll have the opportunity to go out there and make a good impression. We’ve got a lot of good baseball players and I really like our lineup.
“I see a pretty balanced team because we’ve got some outstanding pitching, we’ve got some outstanding hitters in our lineup. We need to play better defense this year. I think that’s going to be important. I think we’ve got a balanced team with some explosive players in there, explosive pitchers, explosive bats.”
One of the highlights of the season will be the April 30 game against Northampton when the two teams travel to Cooperstown, New York, to play at historic Doubleday Field.
The team has been able to practice outside in spurts this spring and spent some time shoveling last week’s snow off the field to hasten the move back to outdoor practices. This week started with the team able to use the field for their practice, but two regular season games have already been wiped out and had to be rescheduled.
Mihalik is proud of the first group that he and his coaching staff can call their own and likes how its developed over four seasons. He’s hopeful that the team can improve on its 16-7 record from last season and go deeper into both the EPC and District 11 playoffs. Last season, they were eliminated in the semifinals in both playoffs and are hopeful of an appearance in the finals this season.
“I love this team,” said Mihalik. “It’s been a good spring so far. Given the weather that we’ve had, I think we’ve handled it well. Every team in Pennsylvania right now is saying the same thing in that when our first game starts there are still some things that I wish we would have been able to practice a little bit more, but I’m still pretty confident going into the season and I think the boys are, too.”