SPRINGVILLE – The three sophomores that figured most prominently in Springville Griffith Institute’s Coach Rick DeKay’s roster last season are competing with Upper Deck in the County of Erie Baseball Association’s (CEBA) Scholastic League this summer, under the tutelage of Coach Mark Messina.
Austin Lux, Jarrett Wolf and Evan Elkins may represent the highest contingent of one demographic of the diverse roster of their new team.
“We’re all over the place. There’s kids from Niagara Wheatfield, Iroquois, Canisius and City Honors to name a few of the schools that make up this year’s team’s roster, we have Canadians too,” said Messina, who is the owner and operator of Upper Deck Baseball and Softball in Hamburg.
Upper Deck (3-1-0) currently sits in second place in the seven-team southern division behind Elma (3-0-1) after a 6-3 win over Lakeview (1-1-0) June 8 at Rotary Field in Hamburg. Messina had praise for all three of his Springville players after the game.
“[Wolf] had a pair of hits, [Lux] had a couple of nice plays in the field at third base, and although [Elkins] was blanked he’s usually one of our best hitters,” the coach said.
While the Springville trio might be hard pressed to find anyone of DeKay’s managerial stature, they will get a unique experience from Messina via his expertise in personal coaching, one-on-one training and playing experience.
Messina played minor league ball for Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers organization after working his way up the ranks from Frontier High School to the Division I level at both the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association (NJCAA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Now the former college and certified biomechanics coach focuses on improving the skills of young players eager to advance with a facility that includes batting cages, pitching mounds, fielding areas, a strength and conditioning area and weight room by offering training programs designed to teach and develop advanced techniques, as well as build strength and endurance.
Although Messina’s Upper Deck teams have competed in different leagues over the years, this is their first in the 13-team CEBA Scholastic League. The league’s rosters are comprised of high school seniors and below who compete exclusively with wooden bats. The 12-game regular season ends in July and follows with playoffs in August. Upper Deck next faces Hamburg (0-3-1) in a doubleheader June 25 at Rotary Field starting at 11 a.m. They follow that game with a road contest against Elma June 27 at Iroquois High School at 6 p.m.