As basketball teams are wrapping up their seasons and the high school academic year is more than half over, it could only mean one thing: The Mount St. Joseph, Irvington, baseball season is finally underway.
The 2008 Gaels (0-2, 6-3) have begun play and look forward to being a top contender in the prestigious MIAA A Conference.
Despite two conference losses early on, the Gaels are a very talented team with Ryan Kemp leading the way. Kemp, a savvy pitcher, has already accepted a scholarship to St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia. The Gaels will lean on Kemp, as a pitcher and leader, to deliver in key situations.
Two other talented pitchers for the Gaels are seniors Danny Druzgala and Tommy Miller. The Gaels also have a left-handed specialist in Zach Spahn, a sophomore.
Besides superior pitching, the Gaels also have talented hitters. Senior Kevin Taylor, the designated hitter, and junior Craig Howser, an outfielder, both have the ability to hit the ball out of the park. Other key players for the Gaels include seniors Ricky Laidler and Will Staso. Sophomore Kirby Riehl will anchor the pitching with his defense behind the plate as catcher.
Under longtime Head Coach Dave Norton, the Gaels went 17-15 in 2007. Norton, who has coached major leaguers – such as Mark Teixeira, who is arguably the overall best player on the Atlanta Braves, and pitcher Gavin Floyd – is an MSJ legend when it comes to baseball.
On April 28, 2007, Norton nabbed his 500th career win, an impressive feat. Yet Norton doesn’t see it as that big of an accomplishment, saying, “It’s not that big of a deal. It just means that I’ve been coaching for a long time. I have been successful, but we all can’t live in the past.”
The Gaels have plenty of competition this season with the top four teams still undefeated as of April 6, including the Calvert Hall College High School, Towson, team, which is ranked first in the nation.
After the Gaels won the MIAA A Conference championship four years ago, the Calvert Hall Cardinals have won the last three years. Calvert Hall has already defeated the Gaels this year by a score of 14-3; even so, Norton still believes the Gaels are capable of winning it all.
“Our goal is to win the MIAA championship. It will be challenging, but you just got to play and win,” said Norton.