By CHAD G. WELCH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
The last time the Cooperstown boys baseball team took the field was in June 2019, in the school’s first-ever appearance in the championship game of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Class C baseball tournament.
Cooperstown fell, 7-3, to Ticonderoga that day and CCS coach Frank Miosek said they have been looking forward to playing ball ever since.
“It will be two years ago in June when we were in the state final,” Miosek said. “We were looking forward to an excellent spring last year and we’re looking forward to an excellent spring this year.”
The Hawkeyes started practice last week and were back to battling a familiar foe: unpredictable spring weather.
“We’ve had four days (of practice), of which we’ve been outside once, because the weather hasn’t been that cooperative,” Miosek said on Thursday, April 22. “We’re used to that, but it’s usually March when it’s not that cooperative.”
Despite the poor weather, Miosek said it is great to be back coaching and the players are already having fun.
“We’re very, very happy to be playing and to be practicing and we’re looking forward to a season,” he said. “We’ve been inside for two to two- and half-hour practices and there’s never a dull moment.
“The kids are smiling, they’re sweating and they’re not complaining, so that’s always a good sign,” Miosek said.
Miosek said plans for the season have changed several times, but as of now they include a 15-game regular season, which would begin May 3 at home against Norwich, followed by sectionals for qualifying teams.
“We’re going to start playing games on May 3,” he said. “The sectional meeting is June 6. We’ve got a schedule of 15 games in approximately one months’ time.
“Then there is going to be a sectional tournament for section three and that will be the end of the playoffs,” he said.
While there won’t be any regional or state championship tournaments played this year, Miosek said the latest plans to allow sectional postseason games is a big improvement.
“It’s the best thing going right now, so we’re excited about it,” Miosek said. “We’re hoping that everybody maintains good health and we can get through this and get into sectionals.”
Miosek said the Hawkeyes expect to have eight upperclassman as full-time varsity players and several of the 17 junior varsity players will be “swingmen” going back and forth between the squads to gain experience.
“Six seniors will form the nucleus,” he said. “Kendall Haney and Chris Ubner were players of the year in the region two years ago. We also have Alex Hage, Alex Hascup, Derek Moore and new senior Alex Poulson who will be doing his senior year here.”
They will be joined by juniors Treston Emerick, Liam Ford and potentially by new student Brendyn Maerz, Miosek said.
Sophomores Henry Loeffler, Bryson Whitaker, Brayden Hascup, Ethan Kukenberger, P.J. Kiuber and freshman Emerson Toulson will be “swingmen” who get playing time at both levels, he said.
With the compact schedule, Miosek said the Hawkeyes will feature a lot of different lineups defensively with almost all players playing multiple positions over the course of the season.
“Nobody is locked into one or two positions,” Miosek said. “Everybody has practiced in and are capable of filling in wherever we need to balance the lineup.
“We’ve got a lot of choices, our kids are multi-talented in different positions,” he said. “Whoever is pitching will dictate who the other position players are.”
Miosek said several players will have to pitch innings including all six seniors. Miosek said he and assistant coach Matt Hazzard will have to make sure everyone gets adequate rest by rotating players around.
“I’ve got a lot of different things going on,” he said. “If someone catches and pitches, I am certainly not going to put them in the outfield. They’re going to have to DH and somebody else is going to take their spot.
“Hazzard and I are going to be watching closely so we don’t end up at the end of the season with tired arms or damaged arms,” he said.
Miosek said junior varsity coach Glen Noto and his assistant Dave Bliss will also play important roles in developing players and keeping them prepared to contribute to both teams.
In addition to their defensive versatility, Miosek said the Hawkeyes will have a balanced batting order led by the seniors especially Haney, Ubner and Hascup who had strong seasons at the plate two years ago.
“All of the seniors are qualified, capable hitters,” he said. “We have several other players who easily could, you know, take the stiches out of the ball, so we’re looking for good at bats from everyone.”
Miosek said they are waiting for the village to establish COVID protocols for Doubleday Field, and until those decisions are made, they aren’t sure if they’ll be playing home games there or at the school.
There is realignment in the Center State Conference with Mount Markham and Little Falls moving out of the division and playing in Class B, he said. They’ll be traveling to Canastota and Adirondack too, he said.
Still, Miosek said he and Hazzard and the team are just happy to be playing games, and he believes the Hawkeyes will be a competitive team that gets better as they season goes on. Much of the team made a spring break trip to The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach for pre-season games, which was originally scheduled for 2020.
“So we feel good about our hitting, we feel good about our pitching and we feel good about our fielding,” Miosek said.