Last month, it looked as if the Birdsboro Sr. Babe Ruth baseball team may not be playing this summer. The addition of a Twin Valley Legion program had a ripple effect on many area legion and Babe Ruth teams. Birdsboro's Legion and Babe Ruth teams were among those hardest hit.But the league allowed Birdsboro to get players from Phoenixville, Mohnton and Exeter, in addition to Birdsboro area player, which gave them enough players to make a team.
What looked like was going to be a very bleak season for Birdsboro, has now looking a lot better. The mix of players from all over seems to have turned into a cohesive team quickly. The Babe Ruth Orioles opened the season by winning five of the first six games.
"The mixture of players from across the area would typically cause some concern," said Birdsboro Head Coach Roger Zyma. "But the group of young men we picked up are exceptional. With a combination of senior players and younger players from junior legion or city/county programs, things are working out better than expected."
After losing the opening game of the season to Pottsgrove, 3-2, the Orioles fought back with five straight wins, including a game in which they scored 18 runs against Spring-Ford 3 and 14 runs against Spring-Ford 2.
With the addition of some key players from other areas, Zyma believes the team has more pitching depth, as well as a some "big hitters" that was added to the line-up.
"The men seemed to have bonded very quickly," said Zyma. "They are a great group of young men that understand our philosophy - pick each other up and contribute in whatever capacity we need. The combination of seasoned, middle and new talent is a great mixture for success. The personality of the team is upbeat and willing to do things to help the team."
As far as seasoned veterans, there aren't a whole lot of players coming back from last year. But those who are back were key contributors to last year's team.
Kory Schlegel is one of those players. He is the ace of the pitching staff and has already pitched a pair of complete games in the early going.
"His control and game management has been very good," said Coach Zyma.
Jason Edmunds is back from Exeter to play another season of solid defense at third base.
Dan Gorman is back for his third season on the team. "We're expecting him to reach his potential on the mound and give us solid innings," said Zyma.
Cory Zepp is back in the center field and is off to a good start after getting several key hits this season. "He is the quarterback of our defense up the middle," said Zyma. "His performance as we progress, particularly in the lead-off position in the line-up, sets the tone for most games."
So far the biggest problem the team has run up against is inconsistency, a problem that often happens with players who haven't played together before this season.
"We seem to still put together an incredibly sloppy inning or two every game," said the coach. "We throw the ball around and make poor decisions and get in trouble. At the plate we need to be more productive in close games."
Hits aren't a problem for the team in the games in which they scored 18 and 14 runs. It's the close games that have been a problem in that department.
The goal for this team is to clean up those mistakes by the end of the season. Winning is never the only goal for the Birdsboro Babe Ruth team. Zyma just wants his players to improve throughout the season and have fun while doing so.
"The players appear to be having fun thus far," said Zyma. "If it stays that way and we get into the post season, that will be a bonus.
"We have to keep the talent focused while keeping our composure. We have won a few games early this year. We can rest assured that those same teams will be much tougher in the later part of the year. If we don't keep improving, or become overconfident, we will be in trouble."