Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis
Crowding returns behind the plate.
Crowding was AEC Rookie of the Year last year. | Photo: Immaculata Athletics
Immaculata reached the Atlantic East Conference championship but lost to an impressive Marymount club last season. Now, new head Josh Copskey has the task of improving on a solid 20-7 campaign from a year ago and pushing the Macs for another deep run at a potential regional bid. 

"It'll be a challenge, but one we're ready for," Copskey said. 

Copskey assumed the head coaching role last September after a successful four-year stint at Penn State Abington where he pushed the Nittany Lions to their first NEAC title and an NCAA Regional appearance. 

"I've been through the fall with these guys now, and I'm impressed with what we have," Copskey said. "We've got a relatively good mix of young and old on our roster. It's a good group of guys with some solid skill sets in the clubhouse." 

The star for the Macs at the plate is catcher Josh Crowding. The junior hit .454 last season while leading the conference with a .845 slugging percentage. He also finished with seven homers and 38 RBI's. 

"He's a true leader," Copskey said. "He does great things on the field, and he's very vocal with these guys, leading by example." 

Leading on the mound will be senior right-hander Ryan Crowell. The Conwell-Egan product made 13 appearances last season, including seven starts, and posted a 3.91 ERA over a team-leading 46 innings. 

"He's been really good for us, especially as a model for our younger arms, how to prepare and pitch," Copskey said. "He's going to do a lot for us again this year." 

As for new talent, freshman hurler Jason Hughes could make an impact early on, as could sophomore infielder Chris Javier, a Philly native and a Constitution High School grad. 

"Both of those two could help us significantly early on," Copskey said. "I could see them both having a huge role as the season moves along." 

An interesting tidbit about Immaculata is the relationship the program has with the high school scene in New Jersey. More than a third of the players on the current roster hail from the Garden State.

"I think there's a real south Jersey connection, I do," Copksey said. "I think that's a tribute to our school. The facilities are great, and you get a top-notch education, so it's a pretty big sell for when recruits come in." 

The Macs open the 2022 campaign with a doubleheader on February 26 at William Patterson. The club will host Delaware Valley on March 1 to open the home portion of the schedule. 

"I'm a big advocate of playing the best teams and using that to see where your team stacks up, so this schedule is pretty good, and the conference is getting stronger," Copskey said. "It'll be a nice challenge." 

If you look closely at the schedule, you'll see a contest on April 27 against Penn State Abington, Copskey's former team. 

Will it carry more weight than any other non-conference, mid-week game on the Macs' schedule? 

"Nah, it's just another game," Copskey said with a laugh. "Those kids over there at Abington are great. It'll be good to see them again. To me though, it's just another game."

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Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis