The old adage in high school baseball says if you put the ball in play, good things will happen because the other team will botch things in the field.
The Downingtown West Whippets put that adage to rest dusting the 2016 season.
The Whippets were flawless in the field and captured the Ches-Mont League title for the second season in a row, compiling a 20-5 mark and advancing to the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs for the first time in school history.
The Whippets resembled a college team in their execution and performance, and were head and shoulders the best team in the Ches-Mont League. It is for these accomplishments that Downingtown West’s Dave Oleszek is The Daily Local News 2016 All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year.
“We fielded the ball well because Coach Oleszek drive us in practice to do the fundamentals right so the games are easy,” Whippets second baseman J.J. Freeman said after another Whippet victory.
Oleszek brings a passion and attention to detail to the high school game that some programs do not know. Longtime Downingtown West assistant coach and coach of the state champion Downingtown American Legion program Scott Rambo talked about what Oleszek provides the West program.
“Dave is a ultra-competitive coach who has the same competitive drive as a coach that he had as player,” Rambo said. “He instills that attitude in our players and he has spent his entire life in baseball in the Chester County area so he knows the level of competition in the Ches-Mont League and District 1 as well as anyone and he knows what it takes to be a winning program in this area.
“His message to the players all season was to treat each game like a playoff game and to prepare for each game in practice as if we were preparing for a playoff game. He stresses the fundamentals at practice, especially on defense, which is a major reason we have achieved the level of success we have. Our players really bought into that mindset this year and we had great senior leadership. Dave had a great deal of trust in our seniors this year and valued their input tremendously.”
After winning the third-place game in District 1, a 2-0 win over Boyertown, Oleszek talked about his four seniors: Joey Zettlmoyer, Ryan Giordoni, Robbie Note and John Paul Bell, and what they meant to the Whippets success.
“We only had four seniors this year but they were a key part in our success,” Oleszek said. “They came to practice ready to work every day and it rubbed off on the other guys. This is a real tough league and you have to be ready to perform every single game because the league is so competitive and those guys won two league titles in a row and will be remembered for bringing this program to new heights for a long time. I will really miss them.”