The weather on Thursday was brutally cold, windy and unforgiving, and Moorestown’s baseball team couldn’t have been happier to be playing.
After an opening game with Delran postponed by inclement weather, Moorestown got its season underway with Thursday’s 6-2 win over host Burlington Township in what has been a most difficult preseason for the Quakers and every other team in South Jersey.
“This is my 23rd season, and I can’t remember a worse preseason weather-wise,” said Moorestown coach Bill Donoghue.
The Quakers somehow were able to get four scrimmages in, which also matched how many outdoor practices they have had.
So playing a game in weather that never reached 50 degrees and seemed much colder with the whipping wind, was welcome.
“It was cold, but good to get started,” said winning pitcher Brian McMonagle, who pitched five shutout innings, allowing just one hit. “You forget about the cold and blow on your hands a little.”
A junior righthander, McMonagle is among the top pitchers in South Jersey, and one reason is that he loves to compete, and he won’t be spooked by the elements.
On Thursday, he pitched with short sleeves. He was also Moorestown’s leadoff hitter and went 2 for 4.
“I feel restricted with sleeves,” he said.
Playing in cold weather will certainly aid McMonagle as he prepares for his next destination. He has made an oral commitment to Boston College to play baseball. Thursday’s game at Burlington Township could feel downright balmy compared with future March and April games in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
“This will prepare me for college,” he said, smiling.
In this day of specialization, McMonagle is a throwback, a three-sport standout who was the quarterback in football and a key starter in basketball.
“I never have a day or week off but I love it,” he said.
Opposing batters aren’t likely to have as much fun facing McMonagle, who threw 70 pitches in the opener and will be the leader on a young but promising team.
“He is solid and very consistent every game,” Donoghue said. “What I like about him is that he just goes about his work, just does his job.”
A varsity baseball player since his freshman year, McMonagle’s job will be to shut down some pretty intimidating offenses.
Donoghue says the key to Moorestown’s success will be how the rest of the young pitching staff develops. Of course, that is the key for virtually any baseball team.
The staff will be tested next week when the Quakers have five games scheduled in five days, weather permitting. The opening game that was postponed against Delran will be played Monday. Then it will be Pemberton on Tuesday, Bordentown on Wednesday, defending Burlington County Liberty Division champion Rancocas Valley on Thursday, and Northern Burlington on Friday.
With McMonagle likely to only get one start, Donoghue will know a lot more about his rotation depth by the end of the week.
Of course, that assumes Mother Nature allows all five games to be played, an assumption nobody should make based on this spring’s wacky weather.
Whether the weather is good or not, McMonagle echoes the thoughts of most baseball or softball players who have endured a cold, wet and snowy spring.
Only losing would have been worse than not playing on Thursday for the Quakers.
“The sun was out and it was a little chilly,” McMonagle said.
Then smiling, he added, “It was nice to finally be outside.”