Picking a collegiate program in part because of its similarities to your scholastic one is quite the compliment to both.
Ephrata outfielder/relief pitcher Adam Schwartz has done that, committing to the University of Connecticut baseball program.
“It’s a program built on hard work, similar to my high school program,” he said. “They have an excellent coaching staff. They treat players the way you want to be treated, with respect. That’s important to me.”
Mountaineers head coach Adrian Shelley said that any time one of Ephrata’s players earns the ability to further their education, as well as their baseball career, it's a huge accomplishment.
“We understand that as high school coaches, we are responsible for playing a role in the trajectory of their overall baseball experience,” said Shelley. “Our objective is that we don't want to play the final role. So, we are constantly shaping and reshaping our own understanding of the recruiting process and what college coaches are looking for in student-athletes.
“It sounds obvious . . . they are looking for really good players; however, it's much more complicated than that. We believe that every coach in America would welcome a player into their program who demonstrates strength of character and an uncommon work ethic. So that's what we encourage from our players. Adam is an outstanding baseball player, no doubt about it. That's what gets the attention of college coaches. However, it's the work ethic, integrity, and academic performance that sets players like him apart."
Schwartz played a key role in the Mounts winning their first district title last spring and advancing to the state playoffs. Ephrata went 13-3 to win L-L Section Two and defeated Governor Mifflin 7-4 in the District Three Class AAAA championship. The Mounts finished 21-6 overall.
Playing in every game Schwartz batted .282 with 24 hits and nine walks in 97 plate appearances. He scored 18 runs, drove in 12 and recorded eight steals. He had a .411 slugging percentage with one home run, four doubles and two triples.
Splitting time between the outfield and pitching mound Schwartz owned a .960 fielding percentage. In 12 mound appearances the right-handed sophomore posted a 1-3 record with three saves and a 1.01 earned run average. He struck out 31 in 27.2 innings pitched, allowed 19 walks, 17 hits and nine runs, only four of which were earned. Opponents hit just .170 against him.
Schwartz said he is going to UConn as an outfielder first and pitcher second, similar to his role with Ephrata.
He considered other schools, including Millersville University, and said that choosing a college in this his junior year helps ease some of the pressure that goes with recruiting.
“Committing early,” he said, “definitely (relieves) some of the pressure.”
Under longtime coach Jim Penders, who is in his 14th year at UConn, the Huskies won their first American Athletic Conference championship last spring and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in seven years. UConn finished the season 38-25.
Shelley sees UConn as a great fit for Schwartz and vice-versa.
“I was in contact with UConn's recruiting coordinator shortly after Adam and his family visited the campus and said 'I hope you were impressed by his character . . . we feel strongly that he can contribute at the next level,'” Shelley said. “His response back was, ‘His character is what will make him a great addition to our program and university.’”