Radnor manager Mark Jordan has a saying he likes to use about his team. (If you know Mark, you’ll learn he has a lot of sayings, really).
When his Red Raiders lost in the District 1 Class AAAA second round May 22 to Strath Haven, there was one particular line that stuck out as he addressed his team for 10 minutes on the field before they dispersed for a final time: “Leave better than you arrived.”
For a talented senior class, that statement couldn’t be truer.
As juniors a season ago, Billy Greenfield, Adam Erkis and All-Delco Ellis Schaefer helped lead Radnor to the program’s first Class AAAA playoff berth. This season, that group helped fuel the program’s first win at this level, a gutsy 8-7 win over Cheltenham in nine innings. On Jordan’s imperative, those three have passed with flying colors.
“Just playing with these guys the past few years, I guess Ellis and Billy, they’re always quality players. They’re always going to produce good teams,” Erkis said after the Strath Haven loss. “… That’s something we talked about in the post-game huddle. I guess being a two-year varsity player, I don’t see it as greatly. But there’s no banners for Radnor baseball championships in the gym, but for everything else, and I’m not saying that we’re not getting any respect, but people think lacrosse first. Being successful in the playoffs, even for one game, is a big thing in our eyes.”
Schaefer couldn’t duplicate the hot hitting that made him an All-Delco as a junior. But he played a big role as the lead-off man, collecting five extra-base hits. Erkis settled in as the staff ace, compiling a 5-2 record and occupying the three spot in the lineup. And though Greenfield didn’t pick up a win on the mound a year after being the 1A-1B ace with Kevin Connor, the Furman commit shouldered the run-producing burden as the clean-up hitter, including a big RBI in the come-from-behind win in the Cheltenham win.
The upside if that this class isn’t a one-hit wonder, as the Red Raiders’ underclassmen far outweigh their departing seniors.
After contributing as a freshman in 2012, Sean Corelli emerged as the staff ace, posting a 7-2 record with two saves, including getting the final seven outs in the Cheltenham win. He also led the team in extra-base hits with seven. Though he’s played mostly at second base in the last two years, he’s a natural replacement for Schaefer at shortstop.
There are other players, many of whom play throughout the summer in legion ball, who will have to step up. Josh Katz and Tom Austen both performed well platooning at first base. Ben Cohen gives the Red Raiders continuity behind the plate. And Connor Wilson is a very intriguing figure, someone who worked his way up from the nine-hole at the beginning of the season to the five-spot in the playoffs, where he drove in the game-tying run against Cheltenham.
It’ll take a lot of improvement for the Red Raiders to take that next step in 2014. But the foundation is very strong.