Crestwood freshman baseball team ends dramatic season in fourth place
By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
As crazy as it seems, the Crestwood American Legion freshman baseball team had a season that was like a three-part drama.
Crestwood started off the season on a good note as it won its first three games of the season in tournament play.
But the middle of the season was chaotic as Rick Monroe took over the head coaching duties and Post 777 struggled against opponents.
Yet the final part of the season saw Crestwood finish with an 8-6 record in league play, which placed the team fourth in the District 10 South Division.
"We won our first three games in a tournament to start off the season pretty hot," Monroe told the Call. "We then ended up winning a few games and took third in the playoffs. I think we had probably the best hitting team in the league this season."
Crestwood had seven players on this year's District 10 South freshman squad.
Justin Schinsky started the season at the shortstop position, but had to move to the role of catcher. Monroe believed that Schinsky's natural athletic ability probably was the best fit for the Crestwood squad.
Yet for his outstanding play at shortstop, Schinsky made the District 10 South All-Star team.
"Justin's very athletic," Monroe said. "He had never caught that much before and we needed him to fill that spot. He's also a very good shortstop."
Centerfielder Kelen Banneckie also made the All-Star team this season along with first baseman Greg Christ.
"Kelen's a real power hitter and when it comes to game time, he gives you 100 percent," Monroe said. "Greg's a good ballplayer who can really scoop up the ball from first base."
Caleb Monore established himself as the team's No. 1 starter this season and was clearly the go-to guy for Crestwood this year.
The All-Star's split-finger fast ball was something that tended to baffle several hitters this season.
"Caleb really emerged as our ace pitcher of the year," Rick Monroe said. "He has a split finger fastball that most kids are not use to seeing."
Second baseman Mike Rogan along with third baseman Craig Leslie also played for the South All-Stars after having strong season's with the Crestwood squad.
"Craig's a selective hitter that doesn't like to make outs," the coach said. "Mike missed the first five games of the season because he was playing for Priory in the playoffs. We were very anxious to get him on the team this year."
Left fielder and pitcher Mike Mantia saw time on the mound for the South All-Stars this season after working with Monroe throughout the season. What impressed the coach the most was Mantia's versatility.
"Mike's a very versatile player," Rick Monroe said. "He's developed into a really good pitcher who's a good leadoff hitter."
With this year's squad moving to the junior varsity and varsity ranks, Monroe believes Crestwood could have inflicted much more damage on its opponents.
"We had the pitching and the hitting this season," the Crestwood coach said. "If we had a good catcher, we would have won the league."