His older brother stood either in the dugout or in the first-base coaching box. His older sister watched from near home plate. His oldest sister was not there, but likely would help his body recover following a complete-game six-hitter.
Kyle Datres is the baby in his athletic family and that means he has a lot of fans these days. Over the years his siblings from oldest to youngest, Kelli, Kory and Kerri, all have made headlines while achieving plenty of athletic success in their respective sports. Now they are hoping their youngest brother shines brightest for Loyalsock.
Kyle is the last of a talented bunch, but he also has a chance to be the best. The freshman pitcher/shortstop struck out 11 in Wednesday's big 6-4 win at Hughesville to improve to 3-0. He has been dominant in his three pitching starts, hits lead-off and already has won a District 4 Class AA basketball championship while being named a football all-star. He also has helped the baseball team win nine straight games to improve to 9-1.
The family name is in good hands.
"I hate to admit it but I always looked up to my brother and sisters. I always want to be the best one in the family," Kyle said. "I'm trying to prove something, but that's not on my mind when I'm playing. That's just an in-house thing."
In that house, Kyle has learned all about what it takes to become the best.
Kelli was an accomplished gymnast and is now a chiropractor who can help Kyle make quick recoveries on days he feels sore. Kory was next and was a starter on three straight district basketball champions while being a four-year baseball starter. Kory was the 2005 Sun-Gazette Player of the Year and helped lead Loyalsock to its first district championship that year, delivering a string of clutch performances in his team's biggest games.
Kerri started high school when Kory was ending it and quickly developed into one of the district's premier basketball and softball players. A four-year starter in both sports, Kerri helped the basketball team capture two district championships and displayed the same clutch gene that Kory did. She saved her best for last, leading Loyalsock to an undefeated 2008 state softball championship as a senior while also earning all-state honors.
Needless to say, Kyle had plenty of role models to emulate himself after without even having to look outside his house. It is still early in his scholastic career, but Kyle is displaying the components that made his siblings so successful. He might be the most physically gifted of the group, but he also has the intangibles that can elevate an average player to good and make a good player great.
"They have helped me a lot," Kyle said. "My brother is on my case every day at practice. I get mad at him now, but I know it's going to help me in the long run."
Early indications are that it's helping now, too. Kyle is among the team leaders in hitting, runs the bases well, fields well and has allowed only two earned runs in three starts while twice topping 10 strikeouts. Thursday, he left the bases loaded in the sixth inning with one out and was at his best in some of the game's biggest spots.
"Kyle pitched a whale of a game," said Hughesville coach Casey Waller, who coached Kory at Loyalsock. "He's a good athlete. He's going to compete hard every time."
"Kyle is going to throw strikes and keep us in the game," Loyalsock coach Jeremy Eck said. "His pitch count got up there a little bit and we want to protect him but ultimately he's a gamer and you know exactly what you're going to get from him and you know he's going to keep you in the game."
Kyle has been pegged for big things since his youth days. He was part of a district and section champion as a 12-year old and has competed in the Babe Ruth World Series along with several of his teammates the past few seasons. Trying to live up to those expectations could be daunting, but the bigger the challenge, the more Kyle seems to enjoy it. That has become the family way.
Who is the best Datres is up for debate, but the best compliment the older Datres siblings might receive these days is hearing that there is a little bit of each of them in Kyle.
Prior to 2005, Montgomery reaching the postseason was cause for celebration because it rarely happened. Today, it would only be news if Montgomery found itself on the playoff bubble. The Red Raiders (10-1) clinched their eighth consecutive District 4 Class A playoff berth Thursday when they defeated Warrior Run, 10-5, in the completion of a previously suspended game.
Montgomery has few starters back from last year's district finalist but has not missed a beat and is as tough as it is talented. The Raiders beat Warrior Run after trailing 5-0 in the fifth inning. They have beaten both the Defenders and archrival Muncy in their final at-bats and trailed that latter game 4-0 early.
ON A ROLL
Sullivan County continues to impress. The Griffins captured the Northeast Bradford Tournament championship Saturday, outscoring NEB and Williamson, 15-4, and have won four straight. Sullivan (6-3) needs only four more wins to reach the playoffs for only the fourth time since 1963 and the first time in the 21st century.
"It's wonderful feeling," coach Walt Tubach said after winning Saturday's championship. "We've worked a lot of years to get where we're at right now."
Sullivan has made steady progress in Tubach's seven years and is on the verge of a major breakthrough. Zach Meyer and Kelby Mullen, starters on the basketball team that captured a district title, are a combined 5-2 on the mound and the offense has been solid from top to bottom. Lucas Hatton had four hits in the NEB Tournament while Sean Flannery and Tom Blasi have been swinging well during the winning streak.
The Griffins could be a team to keep an eye on if they qualify. They have championship experience in other sports and seem to be getting better every game.
The NTL-West race is a log-jam halfway through the season. Wellsboro and Troy are tied for first at 4-1 with Williamson and Mansfield close behind at 4-2 and 3-2, respectively. The Green Hornets have beaten up on Troy and Mansfield but lost to Williamson which is seeking only its second playoff berth since 1999. ... Defending District 4 Class A champion Muncy (6-6) is on the playoff bubble after dropping its last three games. The Indians have been ravaged by injuries and lost consecutive one-run games last week. This is a pivotal week with games against Neumann, which it edged 4-3, and Montgomery on Wednesday and Friday.
Dr. Masse's Top 5
1. South Williamsport (10-0)
The Mounties actually had a close game for the first time, edging Central Columbia, 5-4. That was a big win since it provided South a test it had not encountered yet this season. Pitcher Alex Carpenter pitched a quality five-hitter and improved to 5-0, tying him for the area lead in wins with Montgomery's Kyle Russell. Caleb Catherine is one of the area's top lead-off hitters and has produced eight multi-hit games, including two straight.
2. Williamsport (7-1)
The Millionaires finally lost their first game Saturday, losing 6-0 at Punxsutawney. That Williamsport started 7-0 was impressive, though, considering it lost the majority of starters from last year's district champion. Williamsport rallied for a dramatic 7-6 win over State College earlier in the week, overcoming a 4-0 deficit and winning on Ian Miller's walk-off single. The Millionaires are 4-0 in games decided by two runs or fewer and Jett Bartholomew has thrown 12 shutout innings in his two starts.
3. Jersey Shore (8-2-1)
The Bulldogs are getting plenty of close-game experience. Four of their last five games have either been decided by one run or, as in Friday's case against Hughesville, ended in a 13-inning tie. The most satisfying win might have come last Wednesday when Colton Potter delivered a two-run single that lifted Jersey Shore to a 4-3 win over archrival and previously undefeated Central Mountain. Sophomore pitcher Travis Eiswerth has been brilliant and threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings against Hughesville. The first-time varsity pitcher has an ERA hovering just above 2.00.
4. Loyalsock (9-1)
The Lancers took control of the HAC-II by beating Hughesville and are 7-0 in league play. Loyalsock has won three consecutive HAC-II championships, the only team that has won the title since the league was formed. The Lancers have come a long way since dropping their season opener to Jersey Shore and used that game as a valuable learning experience.
"It did motivate us. It woke us up," pitcher/shortstop Ethan Moore said. "We knew we had to work and bust our butts because of that loss. It's starting to pay off."
5. Montoursville (5-2)
The Warriors are rounding into form, winning three straight and outscoring the opposition, 34-9. Montoursville pounded Milton, 12-2, in six innings, an especially impressive win since Milton handed Jersey Shore its only HAC-I loss. Sophomores like Quintin Kuntz and Andrew Null, who combined for four hits and four RBIs in two wins, are jelling with the seniors and things are starting to come together. First baseman Dalton Young is one of the best in the district defensively and went 2-for-3 in the Milton win.
Player of the week
Chuck Probst, Bucktail
Part of one of Bucktail's best athletic groups in a while, Probst is making a big impact this spring and has helped the Bucks (4-4) win three straight. Probst had seven hits in three wins over Muncy and Millville, a doubleheader sweep, and finished a home run short of the cycle in the second Millville win. Probst earned a save in the first game and then pitched a complete-game shutout with eight strikeouts in the second.
Game of the week
Muncy at St. John Neumann
While today's Montoursville at Hughesville (6-2-1) game should be a dandy, Muncy-Neumann on Thursday gets the nod since both teams are fighting for playoff spots. Neumann (4-6) led Muncy 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh before dropping a heartbreaker last month. The Knights have made big strides the last two years and could make a big statement with a win at Brandon Park.
Masse may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.