North Parkland wins first 12 LVL games
North Parkland Legion coach Terry Stoudt has coached 43 seasons and has seen a lot of baseball, so when he puts this year's team among the best that he's ever coached, that's saying something. It's hard to argue with Stoudt when his team is at a perfect 12-0 and is having no trouble battling its way through the schedule.
The Buffaloes have outscored opponents 102-26 this season and have six games left on the regular season schedule. While the offense has been impressive, it's the pitching that has Stoudt so high on this year's team.
"This team is among my best," said Stoudt. "Our pitching is deeper than last year and we've got guys who not only throw hard, but can throw strikes and that's what makes them so good. We're better than last year and a big reason is because of our pitching."
Much of the talent on the team comes from the same players who took the Parkland High School team to the PIAA Semifinals this season, including Justin Afflerbach, Alex Bartholomew, Rhett Jacoby, Evan McAndrew, Jeff Strisovsky and Dan Zaccaro. Tamaqua's Brett Kosciolek gives North Parkland both a big bat and a big arm on the roster.
While Stoudt is high on the team's pitching depth, that's not to say that he's unhappy with the offense that his team is providing. The longtime coach believes that the team wouldn't be where it is if not for having so much depth because of the backlog of games the team faced while Parkland worked its way through the PIAA playoffs.
"The way our schedule worked out, we've needed all of the pitching depth that we have," said Stoudt. "Parkland went so far in the state playoffs that we had to wait for our guys to be available and then they went right from there to our schedule, so it's been good to have the depth."
The remaining schedule has a combined record of 34-31-2 on the season and includes two teams, Fullerton and Lower Macungie, who provided the Buffaloes with two of their biggest challenges this season. North Parkland downed Lower Macungie 7-6 to open the season and edged Fullerton 3-1 in the first meeting of those two teams.
Stoudt is optimistic about his team's chances the rest of the way, but isn't focusing on getting through the schedule with a perfect record.
"The bottom line is that we have to keep hitting," said Stoudt. "If we do that, this team can go as far as last year's team, I believe that, I really do. We just have to keep hitting."
Last year's team finished 16-2 with both a Lehigh Valley Legion Championship and a Region Two Championship, the first in Stoudt's long career.
North Parkland is at Fullerton Thursday. The Buffaloes play rival South Parkland Friday night at the high school and Southern Lehigh Saturday afternoon at Limeport Stadium before hosting Emmaus Sunday evening. Monday is the All-Star Game, which is played at FirstEnergy Field in Reading. North Parkland will be represented by Afflerbach, Kosciolek and Nate Kern in the game.