New Jersey Super-17 Program
As a first year player in the inaugural season of the New Jersey Super-17 Program at Jack Cust Baseball Academy, Kevin Toolan talks about having the baseball time of his life.
Besides giving players the golden opportunity to perform before college and pro scouts, the action in Super-17 games ranks “better than summer ball,” according to Kevin. “The competition is better and the experience is great,” he says.
In addition to the high quality baseball that the Super-17 games provide, Kevin values the skills and knowledge that he has acquired about pitching. Of all the aspects of the game, Kevin enjoys that part best. He credits his coaches, Keith Dilgard and Ben Fonseca, with teaching him the mechanics and the art of pitching.
The strategies that he has learned from them include how to study opposing batters, something he never did before. For, example when he’s on the mound, he pays more attention now to the batter’s stance at the plate. Where the hitter stands in the batter’s box says much about the kinds of pitches he can reach effectively with the bat.
A closed stance might indicate a hitter’s vulnerability to pitches over the low-inside corner of the plate, whereas an open stance could make the high-outside portion of the strike zone a more inviting target. The practice swings that a hitter takes prior to taking his position in the batter’s box can also indicate potential weaknesses in his “plate coverage” with the bat.
Soon to become a junior at Hunterdon Central High School, Kevin has already begun thinking about his baseball future. Playing at the college level at St. John’s University in New York, at Florida Community College in Jacksonville, Florida, or at Coastal Carolina in North Carolina all rank among his interests presently. He plans to e-mail his baseball portfolio to each of those schools. In that regard, he describes the publicity that he and his teammates receive from playing in the Super-17 program as being invaluable. As he explains it, participating in Super-17 practically assures players a “ticket into college.”
For now, Kevin remains content to hone his skills at the youth league and high school levels. With a successful sophomore season behind him, he emerges as a top scholastic pitcher for 2006. In late July, he traveled to Florida with the New Jersey Warriors for their annual AAU tournament play down south. Mike Raymond, Kevin’s head coach at Hunterdon Central, coordinates the trip each year (see
HCB, Fall 2004) and manages the team. Not surprisingly, Kevin intends to play in the Super-17 program “through (his) senior year.”
Hunterdon County Baseball shall, of course, follow Kevin’s exploits – as well as those of his Super-17 teammates – with keen interest. We invite our readers to follow along with us, both here at your County Baseball website as well as in