Foltz's move puts spin in high schools' baseball look

March 21, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Spring is here, the weather has been great, high school baseball should be as good as ever in Carroll County and all the teams have been outside long enough to prepare for the 1995 season.

It's almost a perfect scenario on the eve of opening day in the county.

Almost . . .

There is one man missing from the scene who won a lot of friends and baseball games over the past seven years at South Carroll.

His name is Joe Foltz.

His zest for high school baseball made him an important part of the Carroll scene every spring, as he not only coached the Cavaliers but several postseason all-star teams in which local players were showcased.

Foltz always tried to get as many Carroll County players selected to those squads as possible and became a friend of any high school player who had hopes of getting a college baseball scholarship or being drafted by a major-league team.

But now Foltz gets up every morning at his home near South Carroll High and drives 60 miles to Harford Tech in Churchville, where he helps out with the baseball team and began putting a football team together last fall.

His heart is still with the Cavaliers who just might have as much talent this season as they did at any time in Foltz's seven seasons -- 57-25 record the past four years and 74-62 overall along with three Carroll County titles, two Central Maryland Conference championships and a co-championship in Carroll last spring.

Eight outstanding seniors return from a South Carroll team that went 15-7 and came within one run of making the state 3A tournament.

It would be so easy for Foltz to coach this team again.

Instead, Bradley Collins takes over the Cavaliers after seven seasons of coaching the school's junior varsity team.

Foltz lost his electronics teaching job at South Carroll due to a lack of students' signing up for the course. He was basically left with two choices -- teaching that course at Harford Tech or in Quincy, Ill.

Harford Tech was his choice. Foltz reasoned he would commute to Churchville until he could sell his home and move closer.

Nine months later, he still is commuting the daily 120 miles and trying to sell his home after reducing the price for a third time.

"It's tough to make that trip every day," said Foltz. "I've tried all different kind of shortcuts and none of them have worked. Sure, I'd still love to be at South Carroll. You had 80 players coming out for baseball there and at Harford we have 20 out for the junior varsity and varsity. You don't cut anybody. It's easier when you have a lot to chose from."

South Carroll athletic director Fred Baker did not want to see him leave, said Foltz.

"My class [electronics] did all the P.A. and scoreboard work at the football stadium and we fixed our own pitching machine," he said. "Now Fred is responsible for that."

So just what effect will Foltz's absence have on South Carroll in particular and Carroll baseball in general?

"Anytime you have a coaching change, it has an impact on a team," said North Carroll coach Denny Snyder. "I had a positive experience working with Joe last year at the Howard-Carroll County All-Star Game. He is well-liked."

Francis Scott Key coach Bob Caples said: "There is always a transition period. I just hope it doesn't take Bradley as long to adjust to coaching South Carroll as it did for me to adjust here."

Collins has been as apprehensive about replacing Foltz as anybody.

"I don't want to drop the ball," said Collins. "Joe had a tremendous program and I hope I can continue to move toward the things Joe wanted to achieve here. I have huge shoes to fill. There were so many fine things Joe did with the program from planning practices to coaching the games."

The new South Carroll coach said he was concerned at first that the seniors on the team might test him a little.

"I was afraid some of the seniors might not want to do the fundamentals in practice. They might think they were better than that," said Collins. "But it didn't happen. All the players keep talking about how we can become a better team. They don't talk about winning more games than last year which is good. If we play good baseball, the wins will come."

Collins had hopes that senior football and basketball standout Greg Mihalko would return to the baseball team as a catcher after sitting out his junior year.

But Mihalko opted once again to concentrate on lifting weights this spring and preparing himself for football next fall at St. Francis (Pa.) College.

"I left Greg alone and didn't pursue him, hoping he would decide on his own to come out but it didn't happen," said the coach.

If Mihalko had been behind the plate this season, senior Jeremy Hancock could have returned to third base, where he began his career for the Cavaliers.

Instead, Hancock will catch again and Jason Petroski will play third base.

Certainly, Foltz has left the South Carroll program in great shape for Collins and most people think the new coach will know what to do with the talent.

"Bradley Collins has been in the game long enough to get the job done," said Westminster co-coach Guy Stull. "It will be a challenge for him to keep the program up to the level Joe had it, but having coached seven years at the JV level will help out."

Liberty coach Steve Insley believes there will be pressure on Collins to win with the talent he has.

"It will be hard for him," said Insley. "But I'm happy for Bradley. He's a nice guy."

Westminster co-coach Carl Rihard did not want to speculate on the situation facing Collins.

"I don't want to say anything about it for fear of putting too much pressure on him," said Rihard.

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