LANGHORNE – Neshaminy head coach Dan Toner couldn’t have dreamed of a better scenario than being handed the reins to the Skins’ varsity baseball team before the start of their 2017 campaign.
Coming back from a 7-7 performance in the Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference and an early exit in the District 1-Class 4A Tournament, Neshaminy graduated 13 seniors but still returns with a ton of talent including All-SOL National first team infielders Corey Joyce and Eddy Parry.
Eleven of the 19 players in the varsity lineup are seniors including Parry, who is headed to East Stroudsburg.
“The senior leadership is really, really good on this team. I love it,” said Toner. “They made it easy for me to come in here.”
Parry opened the season in style, going 4-for-4 with three doubles and four RBI in a 17-4 victory over Upper Dublin Wednesday, March 29 in Langhorne. Joyce returned from a preseason injury to hit 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and three RBI in the Skins’ 8-0 win over defending District 1 champion Pennridge also at home on Thursday, March 30.
The new coaching staff has asked Parry to try and hit the ball to the opposite field and Parry responded with three of his four hits to right or right-centerfield.
“These guys have been great to me coming in,” added Toner. “From the second I got here, every player has been open to new ideas, doing everything I’ve asked of him.
Toner believes the current crop of Neshaminy players can make some serious noise in the SOL National Conference, won last season by CR North.
“If we take care of our responsibilities and we don’t try to play outside ourselves, we’re going to be very happy with the results at the end of the season.”
A 2001 graduate of Council Rock High School, Toner was a two-year starting catcher at West Chester University and an All-PSAC selection his senior year at third base. He’s worked as an assistant under Pennsbury head coach Joe Pesci for six years and before that toiled in the same capacity under coach Dan Kusters and CR North.
Toner takes over a pitching rotation at Neshaminy that looks like this.
The man at the top is fireballer Zach Boop, a righthander who recently committed to Lehigh. After that he has Zach Tredway, Evan Matthews, Jerry Scavone and Owen Foraker. Joyce and junior Harold Landman could also see some time on the hill.
While Tredway hasn’t played baseball since freshman year, he limited Upper Dublin to three runs on one hit in 2 and 1/3 innings in the season opener. Tredway could fill the No. 2 slot behind ace Zach Boop.
“We looked at him and put him on the mound one time in the winter and we said, ‘yeah, we like what we see,’” said Toner. “He’s a heckuva outfielder too.”
After a strong showing during his sophomore campaign, Boop missed large chunks of last season with injuries.
“He was hurt a little bit last year and he hasn’t really been able to get going but he feels really, really good right now,” stated Toner. “He has the opportunity to come in this year and be a very, very dominant pitcher.”
Against Pennridge, Boop took a no-hitter into the fifth inning when he allowed his only hit. In five innings, Boop struck out six batters and walked only one.
In a scrimmage against PAC-10 rival Spring-Ford March 24 in Royersford, the Skins didn’t fare so well against the S-F Rams, a district quarterfinalist in 2016. The good news is the outcome of the duel didn’t count.
“We were running a bunch of guys out there so we were able to see all of the pitchers that were on our staff that day,” explained Toner. “And every single one of our hitters got a chance to jump in there.”
“They’re a very good team so it was good for us to see them nice and early.”
More good news is that the 8-0 triumph over SOL Continental Conference rival Pennridge DID count in the league standings. The Rams took the 2016 District 1-4A Championship with a 3-1 victory over defending champ CR North.
“We’ve had some good tests early on, which is nice,” said Toner. “We’ve had some good competition early so that gets us set up real nice for the rest of the season.”
Sophomore shortstop Corey Joyce and senior catcher Jake Jones started the season on the injury list. That forced Toner to switch Eric Gale from right field to backstop, replacing Gale with Evan Matthews. Second baseman Brian Nicolas moved over to short with Harold Landman took over at second.
“We have guys who can replace anybody at any moment which is going to help us down the road, and right now for that matter,” said Toner.
In addition to Boop, there are a host of other Neshaminy players who are likely to play in college. Third baseman Jerry Scavone is headed to Ursinus. Jones and Matthews are going to play at Eastern. Parry is going to East Stroudsburg, where Anthony Raposelli is looking to walk on. Nicolas is headed to Bryant and Gale has sparked some interest at Washington College and Penn State Berks.