At just about the halfway mark of the 2017 baseball season, Sussex Tech still finds themselves sitting among the top teams in the state.
Entering this week’s play, the Ravens sit at 7-2 overall, just a game behind the Dover Senators (8-1) for first place in the Henlopen North Division. Statewide, Tech is tied for the fifth best mark behind Middletown (7-1), Dover, Delmar (8-1), Appoquinimink (9-1) and Conrad (8-0).
Heading into the second half of their season, they look to turn things around as they’ve struggled as of late after a hot start.
The Ravens opened the season with seven straight victories, knocking off Sussex Central, Newark, Woodbridge, Caesar Rodney, Indian River, Lake Forest and Laurel by a combined score of 69-20.
Since the 7-0 start, Tech has dropped their last two entering this week’s action - falling to Henlopen South standout Milford and Salesianum. Though, in both losses, the Ravens fell victim to a few band innings which has them more than ready to get back into the win column this week.
“We’re anxious to get back on the field, we’re optimistic and upbeat,” said Sussex Tech Head Coach GL Jefferson. “We were in both games, just had those two big innings against us. We understand the team we have and most importantly we have confident players with character.”
Throughout the year, a pitching staff made up mostly of underclassmen including Matt Warrington, Brady Parks, Brayden Graham and Jared Kay, has pulled their weight allowing six or more runs to opponents just four times while combining for two shutouts.
At the plate, seniors Luke Oliphant and Anthony Hitchcock have provided some pop along with juniors Jason Genshaw, Dustin Rolph, Deshown Sample and sophomore Will Argo.
With a mostly young team, Coach Jefferson and his staff have preached having character throughout the year, saying it’s one of the team’s biggest strengths and a reason why they won’t let their recent slide get to them.
“Number one is out team character and we’ve done some activities this year to help develop that,” said Jefferson. “The guys are just having fun this year, it’s one of the most important things you can do during the season, especially in a sport where you’re going to go through extreme highs and extreme lows.”
Despite their recent struggles, the Ravens are still in good shape division-wise. They sit at 6-1 overall against the conference and are still undefeated at 3-0 against the rest of the division.
Sussex Tech has six more games remaining against the conference, with matchups ahead against Cape Henlopen, Dover, Polytech and Smyrna, as well as some tough out-of-conference games against Middletown and St. Mark’s.
Though, as they have all year the Ravens are taking a patient approach and not looking too far ahead.
“Our motto is we play 18 one-game seasons, we start every single game the same way and don’t care about it afterwards, especially playing in the Henlopen Conference that type of mentality is important,” Jefferson said. “I think a lot of teams are geared up to play us and we really thrive on that. Now, we have a lot of big time conference games coming up, some must win games, so we need to play well.”