The tough competition is one thing.
The chance to play different teams from different states with different styles is another.
But there's lots of added value for South Jersey squads that head south around the spring holidays: Great weather, lush fields, a break in the routine, an opportunity to improve team chemistry.
"It was 80 degrees and sunny every day," said Lenape coach Phil Fiore, whose team played four games last week in South Carolina. "Our guys just wanted to play ball. It was just a great atmosphere."
Lenape went 3-1, building some momentum after a so-so start to the regular season.
The Indians got a lift from sophomore lefthander Kevin Milley, who threw a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Patrick County, Va., in the getaway game.
Senior shortstop Stefan Kancylarz, a St. Joseph's recruit, found his batting strike during the trip. Kancylarz was 9 for 10 in Lenape's first three games.
"I just had a feeling he was going to break out," Fiore said of Kancylarz.
Fiore said one of the best things about Lenape's trip was the accommodations. The athletes stayed in three-bedroom, two-bath condos, with about six or seven players in each one.
"One group kept saying, 'We're going back to our man cave tonight,'" Fiore said. "It really was a great trip for us as a team."
Cherry Hill East went 2-2 in South Carolina, using the excursion as a fresh start after losing five of its first six at home.
"We said if we were going to turn the season around we had to do it down here," Cherry Hill East junior first baseman Jesse Gold said. "We would have liked to have come back with a winning record, but we played well against some good teams.
"We feel like we can compete in our division [Olympic American], maybe get our record back to .500 and make the playoffs."
Cherry Hill East coach Erik Radbill also saw another important aspect to the trip, especially since the Cougars have such a young team.
"It was a tremendous team bonding experience," Radbill said.
Tough loss. Highland (5-1) likely has lost senior pitcher/infielder Tyler Hinchliffe for the season with an ankle injury.
Hinchliffe, a Boston College recruit, was hurt sliding into second base with a double in a game at Gloucester.
"At first we thought he had just rolled his ankle," Highland coach D.J. Gore said. "But it turns out he tore some tendons. It's highly doubtful he'll be back this season."
Hinchliffe was 1-0 in the mound for the Tartans and led the team in doubles with three.
"I guess the good thing is he hit a double in the gap in what probably was his last high school swing," Gore said.
Gore said Highland's players are determined to rally around Hinchliffe to make the most of the season.
"We've got 14 seniors," Gore said. "It's a big loss, but our guys are going to try to pick up the slack."
Camden County tournament. Four South Jersey teams get to play at Campbell's Field on Tuesday as Triton faces Timber Creek at 10:25 a.m. and Haddonfield meets Sterling at 1 p.m.
On Saturday, action resumes at Campbell's Field as Eastern and Cherry Hill West play in winner's bracket games. The date and times of the tournament's semifinals and finals will be determined based on the teams' schedules and availability.
Hot Garnets. Haddon Heights has South Jersey's best record at 8-0. The Colonial Conference Liberty Division leaders rallied from an 11-1 deficit the other day to beat Camden Catholic, 21-18.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence," said Haddon Heights senior centerfielder and leadoff hitter Steve Sciortino. "Up and down the lineup, we feel like we can hit the ball."
This and that. Camden Catholic senior Tyler Faiola had a big day in that wild loss to Haddon Heights. He was 6 for 6 with a double and a pair of two-run homers. . . . Eastern (7-4) is 2-2 in the rugged Olympic American, and junior righthander Steve Volpe has both wins, pitching 122/3 strong innings against Lenape and Cherokee.
Sacred Heart (8-3) beat Holy Spirit (7-2) by an 18-17 score in a wild game on Thursday. Each team had a nine-run inning in the clash of Cape-Atlantic League rivals. The Lions' Gabe Casillas drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the 8th. . . . Cinnaminson (4-4) has won three in a row behind junior Jon McGugan (.583 average) and senior Lars Sailor (.500 average, four doubles, two homers).
Moorestown (7-3) has won three in a row and junior shortstop Andrew Lisa has hit a home run in each game. . . . Junior Ben Machtinger is 3-0 on the mound for Cherry Hill West (6-2).
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223