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Sports Article
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Warriors Relying on Versatility, Flexibility for Run to MBC Prep League Playoffs
Written by Bradley Schlegel Staff Reporter

Matt Martin, a member of the Upper Perk Warriors, dives safely into second base during a 14-3 win over Southern Lehigh at Coopersburg, last Thursday night.

        The best aspect of the Upper Perk's Prep Legion team this season has been the players' versatility and flexibility, according to manager Rich Kressly.

        With one game remaining in their league schedule, the Warriors rarely roll out the same lineup in consecutive games. Eleven different players on the team of 13-year-olds, which is made up of mostly seventh graders and two eighth graders, have pitched, and seven have earned at least one mound win, according to the manager.

        "It's not what I would have expected coming into the season," Kressly said. "But the players have done a good job rolling with the punches. They have really bought in."

        Last week, the Warriors (11-6 league, 13-8 overall) continued their surge to the MBC playoffs with consecutive road victories.

        On July 7, they defeated Southern Lehigh 14-3 in five innings. Zach Smith went the distance in the mound to record his team-high fifth victory.

        Two days later, Malachi Duka earned his third mound win of the season in a 10-5 victory over Lower Nazareth.

        Upper Perk, a member of the leagues' Lehigh Conference that trails Boyertown, concludes its regular season Thursday at Baker Field with a league game against North Parkland.

        The MBC's double-elimination playoff tournament begins on Monday.

        "The strength of this team, on any given day, is that our pitchers throw strikes and that our defense makes the routine play," the manager said.

        Smith, Duka, Conor Martin, Soren Svanson and Jacob Ankele provided key offensive contributions during the two wins, Kressly said.

        "Both games were typical Warriors baseball," he wrote in an email. "[The players] generated runs with a combination of timely hitting, aggressive base running and a well-executed bunt game that puts consistent pressure on the defense."

        With an active roster of just 11 players due to injuries, Dalton Dunlap has also provided leadership on the mound with two wins to date, to go along with his solid hitting and catching, according to the manager.

        Kressly also said Evan Shade, Garrett Knowles, Shane Mohan, Zach Gehman, Matt Martin, Aric Kressly and Avery Redd have made solid contributions on offense and defense.

        In order to develop the players' offensive skills, the coaching staff stresses the ability to deliver a quality at-bat.

        "None of our guys know their batting average," Kressly said.

        The Warriors track quality at-bats, which fall into the categories of a line drive or a sharp line drive; an at-bat that lasts at least seven pitches that does not end up in a strikeout; a successfully executed bunt; and any at-bat that advances a runner.

        "The coaching staff really stays on them about this," Kressly said. "We want them to learn what they can control."

        Through 21 games, the Warriors have posted an overall ratio of QABs to plate appearances of .550, ahead of their season goal of .500, Kressly said. 






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