Ted Plessl has witnessed numerous runs by the Lehigh Valley Carpenter Cup team during its 17-year history in the tournament and this week will be a new chapter in its history book. Plessl and the rest of the Lehigh Valley's elite high school baseball players will take their stab at the coveted tournament title when they open up with Chester County on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at Ashburn Field at FDR Park.
Plessl has been managing the Lehigh Valley team since 1998 and knows that this single-game elimination tournament is all about giving your best.
"We just tell the kids to play aggressive and push the envelope," he said. "Whether it's on the base paths or with pitches, you have to be aggressive at this tournament because every team is good."
Plessl acknowledged that the Lehigh Valley squad, which is represented by 25 players from 15 different high schools this year, is one of the annually feared opponents in the tournament. The team won the title in '98 and '01 and also made a finals appearance in 2008. Over the last 13 years, the LV squad has only lost two of their opening round contests. Chester County is also one of the traditional powers of the tournament, which should make for a scintillating first-round match-up.
"We know that our first game is going to bough," said Plessl about Chester County, who the Lehigh Valley is 1-1 against all-time. "We'll just have to see how things go."
Whitehall's Pat Bet will start on the mound on Wednesday, but Plessl has the disposal of Nazareth's Karl Keglovits and Parkland's Casey Cooperman as other aces on the staff, as all three pitchers return from last year's team. The strong trio of pitchers that Plessl has should bode well for the Lehigh Valley's advancement to Friday's second round.
Tamaqua's Mike Streisel (1B/P) and Ryan Palsgrove (OF) are on the squad along with Pleasant Valley's second baseman Drew Borger and outfielder Derrick Walling and Northern Lehigh pitcher Joey Seremula.
No matter who is on the squad, the expectations are always the same for Plessl and his staff.
"Bottom line is that we expect to play four games," he said in reference to reaching the final contest at Citizens Bank Park. "We go with the mentality that we're going to win the championship."