Former Dunmore Pitcher Working on His Dream

By Steve Svetovich

Former Dunmore High School All Region pitcher Josh Zilla has a dream—to pitch in the big leagues. And he’s spent most of this summer in Florida working on making that dream a reality.

Son of Robert and Donna Zilla, Dunmore, Josh will be entering his sophomore year later this month as an Information Technology major at Keystone College, where he is a pitcher on the baseball team.

Josh Zilla, a pitcher with a dream of playing in the major leagues, is currently playing at Keystone College.

Josh Zilla, a Dunmore pitcher with a dream of playing in the major leagues, is currently playing at Keystone College.

Josh spent most of this summer pitching in the South Florida Collegiate League. His team played a 32-game schedule while Josh worked on developing a third pitch—a splitter.

The sophomore hurler played three years of varsity baseball at Dunmore High School, where he played four total years of baseball and four years of football. He was an all-star football player as well as a baseball all-star as a junior. He was an All Regional pitcher as a senior when he was named the Lackawanna League Division III Player of the Year. Josh was 7-0 with a minuscule 0.52 earned run average (ERA) as a senior pitcher. He fired a no-hitter and threw 24 consecutive scoreless innings at one point in the season. He struck out 61 batters.

Zilla pitched 14 innings in his freshman season at Keystone. He had a 2-0 record and impressive 1.90 ERA. He has a 3.0 grade point average at Keystone.

His coach at Keystone, Jamie Shevchik, recommended he learn a third pitch, and that is when Josh made his decision to play in the South Florida Collegiate League.

“He wanted me to work on a new pitch, a splitter,” said Zilla. “I worked on getting movement, getting it down and throwing it for strikes. I had a nice experience there learning a new pitch.”

Josh said he learned a lot from Shevchik in his freshman season.

“He teaches me to stay competitive and remain focused on the mound. Keep my mind straight and be more fluent with my delivery.”

The righty pitcher said coach Mark Finan and his assistants also taught him a lot at Dunmore.

“Coach Finan and his assistants were always telling me to be focused and keep my head in the game,” said Zilla. “They kept my mind straight and focused.”

Josh has been playing baseball since age five right up to Legion and now collegiate baseball. He loves the game and is spending the final month of his summer pitching for the Dunmore entry in the Dunmore Freedom collegiate summer league (formerly CSBL). Home games are played at Dunmore’s Sherwood Park.

“I want to keep getting better as a pitcher. I want to work on my control and velocity. I want to pick my grades up and work on getting my Information Technology degree, but that is a backup plan,” said Zilla. “My ultimate goal is to get drafted and pitch in the MLB. I want to pitch in the big leagues.”

Top Pitching Prospect Gets Promotion to Yankees

By Steve Svetovich

It was just a matter of time. But due to the first place New York Yankees unsettled starting pitching rotation, sooner came before later for 21-year-old top pitching prospect Luis Severino.

Severino

As of Friday, July 31, Luis Severino will now be playing for the New York Yankees.

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced the promotion of the Dominican born right hander from Scranton Wilkes-Barre to the parent club in time for a start against the Boston Red Sox in the first week of this month.

Severino was undefeated at 7-0 in a RailRiders uniform this season. He has a 1.91 ERA for the RailRiders and has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his a Triple A starts. He struck out a career high 10, allowing only one hit over six innings in his last start Wednesday against Lehigh Valley.

The Yankees placed righty Michael Pineda on the disabled list Thursday, July 30, with forearm tightness. Southpaw CC Sabathia suffered dehydration after starting for Pineda in hot Texas the next day.

The team was quiet on the trading front before the July 31 deadline as Cashman starts to turn towards youth from this point to the future. None of the Yankees major prospects were traded, a shift from past seasons.

Severino was signed as an international free agent for a $225,000 signing bonus in 2012. He made his professional debut with the Dominican Summer League Yankees I. He started 14 games and went 4-2 with a 1.68 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 64 and one-third innings pitched.

He started the 2013 season with the DSL Yankees I. He was 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA. He struck out 53 in 44 innings. He pitched in 10 games, including eight starts. Prior to the 2014 season, Baseball America ranked Severino as the ninth best Yankees prospect. He started with Charleston before being promoted to the Tampa Yankees of the Class A Advanced Florida State League. He pitched in the 2014 All-Star Future Games.

He was then promoted to the Trenton Thunder of the Class AA Eastern League. With the three teams in 2014, he was 6-5 in 24 starts. He shined with a 2.46 ERA and 127 strikeouts and only 27 walks in 113 and one-third innings.

He was ranked as the New York Yankees top prospect and 23rd best in the minor leagues prior to the start of this season. He began the season in Trenton before his promotion to Scranton Wilkes-Barre where he is a perfect 7-0.

Cashman announced Severino’s call up to the big leagues Friday, July 31, and it is a move anticipated all season for Yankee fans. Time will now tell if Severino is major league ready at 21, but do not count him out.

Sherwood Park Makes a Splash

By Emily Fedor

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Everyone deals with grief differently, but three Dunmore families that each faced a loss of their own chose to turn their grief into something positive and honor their loved ones in a very special way.

The Zayac family lost their “Sweet Baby Jude” in 2014 as the result of SIDS—Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Mark and Diane Michalczyk’s son Ryan passed away in his sleep in 2009. And Dorothy French Conway lost her long and bravely fought 11-year battle with ovarian cancer in 2011.

Carol Conway, Dorothy’s mother-in-law, said that at the end of Dorothy’s life, she wanted a play area where children could gather and enjoy summertime fun to be constructed.

“She was such a wonderful mother and educator…and she loved children,” said Conway. “She just felt that establishing something would give them a focus. They needed to know that they were important. She was the most selfless person.”

With similar hopes of finding a way to give back to the community and memorialize their own loved ones, the Zayacs and the Michalczyks appeared to be the perfect partners to make that dream a reality.

***

Years ago, Sherwood Park was home to a small wading pool, an area where many children were able to play and keep cool during the hot summer months. But in 2006, the pool was drained and filled in.

Susan Brace, treasurer of the Sherwood Youth Association, said, “We had to fill in the pool because of rising insurance costs. We had to keep a lifeguard on duty, and the pool was actually deteriorating.”

Brace said the idea of creating another water attraction was in the making for years, but the organization never thought they would be able to secure the funds needed to make the idea a reality.

In 2008, Tammy Robson, a former Sherwood Youth member, did a college project on installing a splash pad at the park in the same spot where the old wading pool once stood. Robson included pictures and financial estimates and ultimately made the concept a little more concrete.

“This has been an on-going idea for years,” said Brace. “We saw them [splash pads]  in the area and wanted to build something where they [local children] could enjoy the summer months, but we never thought we’d be able to do it because we never thought we’d be able to raise enough funds.”

The Dunmore Summer Festival hosted annually at the park brought in some funds, but it was not until the Michalzyk family brought in the first major donation in May of 2014 that things finally got moving.

Diane Michalzyk said that her family worked to remodel the park area at St. Anthony’s Memorial Playground in Dunmore in 2011 in memory of her son Ryan. They had an idea to construct a water attraction there but quickly realized it was a big project to tackle alone. So when they heard Sherwood had a similar idea, they immediately jumped on board.

“With the combined resources from the families and Sherwood Park, we were able to accomplish that project faster than if we went at it on our own,” said Michalzyk, “and the experience was just priceless.”

Shortly after, the Conway and Zayac families heard about the park’s splash pad plans and joined the efforts to make the concept a reality. And with that, the dream team was fully assembled.

Each family had a memorial foundation established in names of those they lost—the Jude Zayac Foundation, the Ryan Mason Michalzyk Memorial Fund and the Dorothy French Conway Memorial. Different fundraisers that each family conducted provided crucial funds that allowed construction to begin. Sherwood Youth also qualified for a $45,000 state grant funded by Mount Airy Casino Resort slots revenues—a share of money distributed annually under the 2004 slots law.

In March, the final design was completed, the splash pad equipment was purchased from Aquatic Recreation Company, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and construction plans began to play out. Reilly Landscaping excavated the former wading pool area in May once the frozen winter ground finally thawed, and in June, Perry’s General Contracting was chosen to spearhead the splash pad construction.

At the end of  nearly a month of construction, the non-slip finish was applied to the concrete surface, and the Splash and Play Zone was finally ready to be revealed.

The officers of the Sherwood Youth Association hosted a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting to open the pad for public use on Sunday, July 19. The national anthem was sung by Thomas Pyeron, and a blessing was given by Rev. John A. Doris. Additionally, Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney and each of the families were presented with plaquesa token of gratitude for the part they played in bringing the concept of the splash pad to life.

After a balloon release, the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon and the unveiling of a monument honoring Jude, Ryan and Dorothy, children from each of the three families pressed the activation ballard togetherturning on the splash pad for the first time.

Greg Zayac, father of Jude Zayac, admitted that the day was a bittersweet but enjoyed seeing all the families who came out for the opening playing on the splash pad and having a good time.

“It was a little emotional,” said Zayac. “It’s unfortunate that we all had to lose someone for this to be a reality, but it’s really been inspiring and helpful in our grieving process. I think it’s a great thing for the community, and the kids really love it.”

***

The Sherwood Youth Association is now preparing for their annual summer festival, which will take place on August 13, 14 and 15. The fun-filled event will be the perfect platform to showcase the park’s new attraction and allow locals to enjoy some hot summer nights.

Sherwood Park Prepares for Annual Summer Festival

By Steve Svetovich

Sherwood Youth Association will host their annual Dunmore Summer Festival this month. (Photo Credit: Sherwood Youth)

Sherwood Youth Association will host their annual Dunmore Summer Festival this month. (Photo Credit: Sherwood Youth)

The Sherwood Park Youth Association will hold its third annual Dunmore Summer Festival on August 13, 14 and 15 at Sherwood Park.

Robert Plappert, president of the Dunmore Sherwood Youth Association, is chairperson for the event. Trish Fedor is co-chairperson and is in charge of the vendors for this year’s festival

“It has been a big success the past two years,” said Fedor. “All of the money goes directly back to Sherwood Park. We now have a splash pad which is going to be a favorite at the park. The children and their parents love it. It is going to be a big attraction.

“We are hoping this year’s festival will be a big success once again. We are ready to go.”

Matt Fedor is Vice President of the Sherwood Park Youth Association. Jeanne Jarrow is secretary. Susan Brace is treasurer.

“There will be a lot of different vendors, games, good food and bands. We are fully expecting a huge turnout,” said Fedor. “This has become an annual event to bring people together in Dunmore and at the same time raise funds for Sherwood Park.”

The event will be held from 5-11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, August 13 and 14, and from 4-11 p.m. on Saturday, August 15.

***

The musical entertainment will begin On August 13 with The Fabulous Fortunes, playing classic rock from the 50s through the 90s. The popular group has performed several decades in the Scranton Wilkes-Barre area, New York City and New York State and Pocono Mountains. The band has also performed at Scranton’s annual La Festa Italiana since its inception and regularly performs at local picnics and fairs and Nay Aug Park.

Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax will perform on August 14. Known for their multi-use of horns and percussions, Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax have been a popular group for decades performing in various clubs and local picnics in the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas.

Dashboard Mary will perform on August 15. A classic rock band, this group features several Dunmore natives and residents who are looking forward to performing at Sherwood Park. The group has been performing for many years in clubs and venues in the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas.

The list of food items include pizza, sausage and peppers, pierogies, halushki, porketta, pizza fritta, potato pancakes, cotton candy, popcorn, chicken barbecue, pasta fagiole, clams, hot dogs, corn, various ethnic foods, delicious baked goods, cake and brownies. There will be cold drinks, including beer, water and soda.

Fedor said there will be rides and games for children, horse and pony rides, and tons of entertainment.

UNICO, always an important part of the festivities, will be in attendance once again. There will be information on UNICO available to the public just as there has been in previous years.

“The people of Dunmore keep asking for it back. We will continue making it a big event,” said Fedor. “We want it to be successful for those who attend and for the park.”

Trish Fedor and everyone involved are working hard to make this a successful, annual event. It brings money to the park and unity to the borough.

“People look forward to seeing everyone here,” said Fedor. “Sometimes you run into somebody you have not seen in years. The people of Dunmore and surrounding areas really look forward to this. We try to make it special, a fun time for everybody.”