New Jersey Super-17 Program
At 16 years-old, Sean McKeown represents one of the Super-17 “rookies” who have the opportunity to return for at least one more season before making their way into the college ranks. Sean began his junior year at Immaculata High School this fall, leaving him with one more year of eligibility for the fast growing, prestigious, Super-17 program.
As each of the Super-17 players interviewed by County Baseball exclaims, he speaks glowingly of the instruction that he received last summer from his Super-17 coaches, Keith Dilgard and Ben Fonseca.
Among the more important aspects of the game that Sean, a left-handed pitcher, has learned include having what he calls a “situational attitude” when he is on the mound. For example, he knows to expect a possible steal situation when the batter’s count runs to 3-1, and he knows to use a carefully placed “waste pitch” when he gets ahead of the batter at 0-2. Thinking in terms of game situations when he pitches comprises the importance of “staying mentally focused” both before and during the game.
Sean singles out mental preparation as the most significant concept that he learned in the Super-17’s inaugural season. Mental toughness on the mound will help him “stick to the game plan…(and) never give up” on those days when he “doesn’t have (his) best stuff.”
In addition to adding a changeup to his pitching portfolio, he has learned the necessity of “staying in shape.” The more a player, especially a pitcher, maintains good physical conditioning, the better will be the player’s mechanics for the game, as Sean observes. He understands the counsel that he has received from Coach Dilgard and Coach Fonseca to increase the use of his “legs in the wind-up and hips in the delivery, to get his entire “body into the pitch,” and develop greater “torque in (his) arm motion.”
Persistence on his part seems to have started paying off, too. Already he has received letters of interest from four college baseball programs, including Lafayette, Lehigh, Monmouth, and Rider.
After one season in the Super-17 program, Sean prefers it to other summer baseball that he has played. In particular, he finds the hitters that he faces during Super-17 competition to be “more patient,” more likely to “make the pitcher pay” if he loses his focus and grooves a pitch that the hitter can handle.
Sean looks forward to competing with and against some of his Super-17 teammates in next year’s high school season. He feels confident that the skills that he has learned and is continuing to develop will make him the best ball player that he can be.