To be honored as Coach of the Year, your team must have been successful or done something extroardinary. Success may be in the eye of the beholder.
The 2022 Immaculata baseball team was the only club in Somerset or Middlesex Counties – the CJSR coverage area – to win a state sectional title, and reach the Group finals down in Hamilton. But even that is not enough to garner a Coach of the Year nod.
Put it to you this way: Immaculata plays in perhaps the toughest division in the area, top to bottom, the Skyland Delaware. It’s a ten-team grouping that saw six of them play above .500 (even the GMC Red only had four do so) and the Spartans land squarely in the middle, in 5th place. They were 10-12 heading into the Non-Public North B state playoffs.
And then, in the postseason, they did something they hadn’t done all year: string together four wins in a row. Ah, but not just any four wins. In the semifinals, they knocked off the top-seed – and Somerset County Tournament semifinalist – Rutgers Prep but good, 11-2. Then, for an encore, in the sectional title game, rallied from a 7-0 sixth inning deficit to shock Gill St. Bernard’s 8-7, to win their fifth sectional crown in program history.
To do that requires talent, sure. Maybe a bit of luck, right? But it also necessitates a steady hand from above, to guide a team that started the season 0-3, and had no more than two three-game win streaks all season long.
That hand was Kevin Cust, and his coaching staff.
Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Immaculata head coach Kevin Cust, the 2022 CJSR Coach of the Year: