Baseball: Nazareth uses summer to breed more success
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:44AM
LAGRANGE PARK — Nazareth baseball coach Lee Milano believes the success of the program in recent years is kind of like a double-edged sword.
“I hate to tell guys that they don’t want to disappoint the previous players by not continuing the success and tradition of the program,” Milano said. “I don’t want them to feel that kind of pressure. I just want them to play in the moment and have confidence.”
The Roadrunners are coming off back-to-back state tournament appearances, including placing third in Class 3A this past spring.
They have continued their success so far this summer, getting off to a 14-5 start.
“The summer is used to develop for the spring,” Milano said. “We play a lot of games and have a lot of different guys out there. We have some guys doing different sports, so they’re not there every day, but that gives others opportunities to play. I like to use the summer to see how everyone handles certain situations and it’s a chance to work on things.”
Junior-to-be Jake Bartels, who will be the ace of the staff next spring, has pitched just six innings this summer with rest being a priority.
Outfielders Mike Noesen, Carl Jackson and Chaz Usher, who will be seniors, all figure to play much bigger roles after getting limited plate appearances as juniors.
Juniors Brandon Gipson and Andrew Barreto are also players Milano anticipates making a difference.
Senior Dan Kienzle figured to be a key pitcher for the Roadrunners this past spring, but an injury during basketball season limited him to just one inning pitched. He’s now healthy and has looked promising this summer.
“I like where we’re at,” Milano said. “We have a lot of players back from last spring, but just because we won in the past, you can’t take it for granted. You have to keep working hard and spend time in the weight room in the offseason. We have good competition within the team, which is good. Hopefully it brings out the best in everyone.”