Northeast Bradford baseball is known as “Small Ball,” which refers to their style of play but also highlights the program.
The Panthers varsity baseball team has 13 players, including two seniors, and 197 students as of 2021.
NEB will play District II’s Susquehanna Community at Mansfield University in its first state playoff appearance on Monday despite a staffing shortage.
Northeast Bradford coach Brian Salsman said, “We’re in a small community, everybody knows everybody, they’ve all grown up together. “It’s hard not to know everyone in a class of 40.”
After finishing 8-10, the Panthers entered the District IV Class A final game as the second-best team in Class A, against top seeded Benton. Northeast Bradford defeated the Tigers 2-1 to win their first district title.
“Winning the district title was awesome,” said Joe Stanton. Every inning was tough since we were down. Strike three was unforgettable. Fun game.”
The Panthers are excited for their first-round encounter after two weeks of firsts.
Since his freshman year, Joe Stanton has wanted to win a district title. “We’re here, didn’t fully expect to be here, whatever happens, happens.”
Josh Stanton said, “There’s definitely a little bit of pressure, but I just know that we made it here is amazing. “I’ve got to go out and give it my all and hope for the best.”
Northeast Bradford relied on Clay Wiggins and Josh Stanton defensively in 2023 to reach the playoffs. They’re 8-6 with 101 strikeouts.
Salsman called Wiggins “dynamite” from the start. “Josh had arm problems early in the year, then we got Clay and Josh together here for the last five or six games, and it’s been wonderful to coach something like that.”
Panthers players contributed offensively. Five Panthers—Josh Stanton, Wiggins, Dillon Donnelly, McPherson, and Joe Stanton—had at least 10 hits this season, while McPherson, Wiggins, and Joe Stanton have 34 RBI in 19 games.
They competed throughout a season when postseason hopes were uncertain until the end.
“What a ride. It’s been nerve-wracking and we didn’t know what to anticipate. “It’s a lot of checking the District IV website and standings,” Cayden McPherson said. Nothing to lose. That’s amazing for the small Northeast, which has never won a district title before. “These guys and coaches are great.”
The Panthers’ tight-knit chemistry varies from other NTL schools since there are fewer players.
“Being so small, we know each other better than other schools, most of these kids I play a different sport with,” Joe Stanton said. That improves our chemistry.
Northeast Bradford’s season has been a success, regardless of Monday’s outcome. Wyalusing, who qualified for the Class AA state playoffs the day after the Panthers, is the other NTL team still playing in June.
“If you told me in May we’d be one of two schools left in the area, we’d have probably told you you’re nuts,” Salsman said. We thought Wyalusing, Athens, and Troy would be nice. We liked our little school division. “We played pretty good, first half (of league play) we were 3-1 and then 1-3 the second half.”
Northeast Bradford plays Susquehanna Community at 4:30 on Monday at Mansfield University.
Salsman replied, “In one sense, everything’s gravy from now on. The youngsters are much more revved up because we know we can play with them and win. The playoffs are unpredictable.