Western Wayne's varsity baseball team is fighting opposing teams and the elements
Western Wayne is struggling on the baseball diamond in the early portion of the 2018 Lackawanna League season.
The Wildcats have suffered a pair of lopsided losses to Mid Valley and Lakeland, but this fact isn’t enough to dampen Drew Boandl’s optimism.
A Western Wayne graduate and former standout player at the collegiate level, Boandl is in his third year at the varsity helm.
Last season, he committed the team to a total rebuild, playing talented underclassmen at several key positions. This spring, he’s hoping that decision pays dividends.
“I’m already hearing from other coaches and even from umpires that we’re much improved,” Boandl said. “We’re definitely heading in the right direction.
“We’ve only been on a field four times so far and three of those were for games. Once the weather breaks a little bit and we get some practice time, we’ll be okay.”
Weather permitting, the Wildcats will be back on the diamond Tuesday at Dunmore. First pitch is slated for 4:30 p.m.
Western Wayne played its first regular season game Monday at Mid Valley.
The ‘Cats dug themselves an early hole and couldn’t escape, eventually suffering a 7-1 loss.
Logan Bolduc earned the starting nod, but couldn’t get out of the second inning.
Pat Seeley came on in relief and finished out the game. The junior worked 4.2 innings, striking out four and walking two.
A hard-throwing junior righty, Bolduc is coming off a sophomore season severely shortened by injury. And, while his pitching debut was a bit disappointing, Logan made an impact with the bat.
Bolduc accounted for Western Wayne’s lone tally, crushing a solo homer in the top of the sixth.
“I love Logan’s approach at the plate,” said Coach Boandl. “He is a very good hitter. He’s aggressive, but disciplined too. Logan stays within himself and doesn’t try to do too much.”
Bolduc did some serious damage against Lakeland as well, ripping an RBI double, working a walk and hitting a sacrifice fly.
Two other players who deserve special mention for their efforts in the first two league games are Zane Janiszewski and James Sommers.
A freshman catcher who can also play several other positions, Janiszewski is already providing a spark at the top of the batting order.
Zane ignited Western Wayne’s offense versus Lakeland, leading off the game with a triple.
Moments later, he scampered home and gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Sadly for local fans, this early advantage wasn’t destined to last. Lakeland is a prohibitive favorite to win the Division IV title and the Chiefs flexed their muscles in this one en route to a 17-4 victory.
Zaniszewski starred nonetheless, finishing 3-for-3 with a two singles and a run scored.
“Zane has a great demeanor,” Coach Boandl said. “He’s a perfect fit for the top of our line-up. Zane is a real spark plug. He runs well and makes things happen on the bases.”
Sommers is a battle-tested senior who pitches and plays first base. While James has struggled at the plate so far this season, his leadership more than compensates.
“We have a lot of mutual respect for each other,” Coach Boandl said. “He works hard every day and he knows what I expect.”
James was scheduled to make his regular season mound debut Thursday against Holy Cross.
Pitching has been a concern in the early going for Western Wayne.
The Wildcats feature several talented young arms, but they haven't been getting past the first few frames thus far.
“We need to go deeper into games, no question about it,” Coach Boandl said. “Our starters have to do a better job because we've had to use the bullpen way too much.”
Defense has also been a worry as the young 'Cats have made several serious miscues in the field that led to enemy runs.
“I'm not as concerned about the gloves because we just haven't been out on the field due to the weather,” Coach Boandl said. “Once we get outside and get some practice in, we'll be fine.”
One bright spot has been Western Wayne's approach at the plate. While they've suffered two lopsided losses to begin league action, the 'Cats have been putting the ball in play consistently.
Youngsters like Zane Malcolm, Alex Kuha, Jake Shepherd and Tyler Peet have all delivered key base knocks.
“I think the best thing is that we're being smart up there,” Coach Boandl said. “We're being aggressive, but we have a good sense of the strike zone, too.”
Western Wayne has only struck out six times in two games while banging out a total of 14 hits.