As summer approaches, so does Opening Day for the Shelter Island Bucks, the Island’s own collegiate baseball team playing under the umbrella of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL).
After making the playoffs two summers ago, the Bucks produced a 17-23 record last year that wasn’t enough to get them into the postseason. But now with a new-look team and both a newly acquired manager and pitching coach, the Bucks are determined to make this summer a special one.
The new manager of the Bucks is Jon Karcich, a former Santa Clara [California] University MVP and draftee of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels. A West Coast ballplayer and coach all his life, Coach Karcich told the Reporter recently that coming to the east coast “will not only give me a change of scenery, but will also be a good challenge for me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
He translated that to mean it’s good for any individual to get out of their comfort zone.
Coach Karcich added that he’d “heard good things about the HCBL. When I got offered the opportunity, I didn’t hesitate to take advantage.”
The coach “will have standards” for his squad and will make sure the players “are respectful to their host families and the community” over the summer.
Coach Karcich is eager to share his knowledge and previous experiences of college and professional ball with his players so that they’ll be prepared not only for this season, “but for their school year next fall.”
Putting an emphasis on all aspects of the game is a philosophy of his, with position players working equally on offense and defense, while pitchers will work to improve their craft on the mound.”
With 40 regular season games and potentially six playoff ones, Coach Karcich knows that his team will also be challenged mentally and that the players will have to improve on that side of their games as well.
He doesn’t know what specific strategy he will use with his team yet, but will make sure he defines his team’s identity during the first couple weeks of the season and work from there. There are two essential points to make about the style he will impart:
“One, I will let the players play, and two, we will be aggressive. Everything else will be determined by the type of personnel we have.” HCBL, consider yourself warned.
As for the hiring of former Texas Rangers farmhand Gerald Smiley as the Bucks new pitching coach, Coach Karcich is pleased.
“Our pitchers will be privileged to work with Coach Smiley, as his background and knowledge of the game is tremendous,” he said. “He brings great energy to the park every day and I’m personally excited to grind out a summer with him on my staff. I’m excited for our players to get to know Coach Smiley.”
Coach Karcich’s personal goal for the summer? “That each player hasimproved and leaves a better person and player.” His team goal? “To win the last game on August 3rd.”
The new Bucks skipper is “looking forward to the relationships that will last beyond this summer with the players.”