Eden Christian’s Caleb Emswiler caps memorable season with Class A player of the year honors

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Sunday, June 30, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Caleb Emswiler capped an outstanding baseball career at Eden Christian Academy with a top individual honor.

Emswiler, a talented senior pitcher/corner infielder, was named Class A player of the year by Trib HSSN following the 2024 postseason.

The right-handed hurler led the Warriors to a section title and WPIAL and PIAA runner-up finishes.

“What an honor, to be named player of the year,” Eden Christian coach Mark Feldman said. “I look at the award not only as an individual award but also a team award.

“Players need to be on base in order to produce RBIs. Your defense must be strong behind you to get wins on the mound. So not only am I happy for Caleb, but I am also happy for all his teammates that helped along the way.”

Emswiler hit .425 (31 for 73) this season with six home runs and 40 RBIs. He scored 24 runs and had an on-base percentage of .512, slugging percentage of .822 and OPS of 1.334.

“I’d like to give all the glory to God and say it’s such a blessing to be picked for this award,” Emswiler said, “especially looking at all the talent in the WPIAL this year. I wouldn’t be in this position without the support of my coaches, parents and teammates. When I found out about the honor, it was a full-circle moment for me. It is very gratifying seeing the hours behind the scenes and hard work pay off.

“I’d like to give a shout out to all my coaches and teammates over the years for helping me grow into the player and person I am today. I’m looking forward to my next opportunity.”

Emswiler led the club in home runs and was second in slugging percentage. He racked up 31 hits, including nine doubles.

His younger brother, Noah, was a sophomore pitcher/outfielder for the Warriors. Noah hit .297, scored 30 runs, had 19 RBIs, belted one home run and had an OBP of .464.

“The one thing the coaches and team preached all year was ‘family’ and playing for one (another),” Caleb said. “This team was connected more than I have ever seen and the run we made couldn’t have happened without every member of this team.

“Seeing how we bounced back from a first-round (WPIAL) exit last year really shows the grit of this team and how we can overcome adversity.”

Eden lost to undefeated Faith Christian, 4-1, in the Class A state championship game June 14 at Penn State.

The Warriors reached the PIAA finals for the second time in four years. They ended up 20-6 overall, 5-2 in the postseason and 12-0 in Section 3-A.

District 1 champion Faith Christian rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat the Warriors and finish with a 23-0 record.

This season, Eden Christian won WPIAL playoff games as the No. 2 seed against No. 7 West Greene, 5-1, and No. 6 Avella, 11-2, before losing to fourth-seeded Bishop Canevin, 10-3, in the championship game May 28 at Wild Things Park.

The Warriors defeated Conemaugh Township, 6-3, and Avella, 11-4, in the first two rounds of the PIAA tournament before defeating District 10 runner-up Saegertown, 6-5, in the semifinal round.

“Our players competed for each other all year,” Feldman said. “They were a very dedicated group of student-athletes. They pushed each other in practice every day.

“Hopefully, in a few months, we look back and realize what an accomplishment it was to be one of two teams left standing. We maxed out our schedule and played every game we could possibly play. That is pretty cool.”

The Emswiler brothers were a combined 7-1 on the mound. Noah, a lefty, was the leading closer with four saves in four chances.

“Noah has a very high ceiling,” Feldman said. “He is a very calming presence on our team. He does not get rattled.”

Caleb was 2-1 with a 3.40 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings.

He will continue his career at Gardner-Webb, a member of the NCAA Division I Big South Conference in Boiling Spring, N.C.

“Caleb will focus on pitching only in college,” Feldman said. “He has a very bright future on the mound.”

Emswiler graduated with a 4.1 GPA and plans to major in accounting. He said choosing Gardner-Webb was a no-doubter.

“Looking at it from all aspects, it really checked all the boxes for me,” Emswiler said. “A Christian school with a strong baseball culture is exactly what I was looking for. The academics were also really important, and they have a good business program which I plan to go into.

“Coach (Jim) Chester and coach (Rob) Hardy are awesome (at Gardner-Webb). They are great people as well as the players there. I’m just super blessed for the opportunity and ready to get to work. Hitting is definitely something I’m going to miss, but I’m excited to focus completely on pitching. Coach Hardy is known for developing great pitchers and I’m excited to have the opportunity to learn and grow from him.”

Emswiler was one of six seniors on Eden’s team in 2024, along with P/OF Enzo Natale, 2B Charlie Wolf, OF Aidyn Helsley, C/OF Carter Cropper and OF Jake DeFazio. Emswiler, Natale and Cropper served as co-captains.

“This year was fun for us,” Cropper said. “We had our moments, but in the end, I’m very grateful to be a part of this family.”

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