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Versatile Jack Loefflad did it all on baseball, soccer fields for Mainland Regional

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher Jack Loefflad was a first-team all-Cape-Atlantic League selection as a catcher this year for the Mainland Regional High School baseball team. He probably could have been first team as a pitcher. Or a second baseman. Or a left fielder. Jack Loefflad is at home on the baseball field, no matter what position he is playing. Loefflad’s ability to play multiple positions at a high level made him sort of coach Billy Kern’s secret weapon the past few seasons. Last spring, Loefflad would at times play second base when Kyle Gerace pitched, then would switch over to left field when Gerace came off the mound. He also proved to be a valuable relief pitcher, taking on the closer’s role in certain situations in the playoffs as Mainland went on an incredible run to capture the South Jersey and overall Group 3 state championships. “Jack gave us so many options. Last year he was all over the outfield. He was the one guy who we truly believed we could have started at any position and there wouldn’t have been any downgrade in our lineup. It’s a comforting feeling when you are doing the lineup, if you have some injuries and two or three guys go down or you are short in some weeks, you start talking to your coaching staff about where you are going to plug in certain guys, when you have a guy like Not only was Jack Loefflad the starting catcher for the Mainland Regional baseball team, he also came on as a relief pitcher at times in critical situations, showing his versatility. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Not only was Jack Loefflad the starting catcher for the Mainland Regional baseball team, he also came on as a relief pitcher at times in critical situations, showing his versatility. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) Jack it was kind of the trump card for us. It was a very nice comfort for us to know that if anybody went down, anytime, anywhere, we had Jack. He’s a 100 percent team guy and he just wanted to play, and win,” Kern said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys who can maybe play all the infield positions or are versatile enough to go from the infield to the outfield, but not catching at as high a level as he did and also be able to play those other positions. When you have a guy who is first-team all-conference behind the plate but could have played one of our infield positions or been an outfielder, when you add catching into it, it’s just that much more difficult. It’s that much more impressive when you’re primary position is catcher and you can do so many other things at a high level.” Loefflad, who was just as versatile for a soccer team that made a return trip to the playoffs last fall, said he learned early on how important it was to be able to play multiple positions. The more positions a baseball player can handle, the less time he sits on the bench. “I was taught as a young kid that you’re not a catcher, you’re not a pitcher, you’re not a shortstop, you’re a baseball player,” Loefflad said. “I’ve grown up that way, so every sport that I go into, I’m not looking at one position and saying ‘that’s my position.’ I think I’ve played almost every position on the field, so I have a lot of experience at different positions. I feel very comfortable no matter where I am.” Comfortable was what Mainland pitchers felt with Loefflad behind the dish, Kern said. Not only was he a master at calling games, but he shut down the running game of opposing teams to the point where they would simply stop trying to steal bases on the Mustangs’ defense. “I think the credit for our pitching staff goes squarely to my brother and Jack. My brother, Brian, is the pitching coach and Jack is the coach on the field. We don’t call more than five or 10 pitches per game. Jack is basically the pitching coach out there on game day,” Kern said. “And what also might go overlooked is he basically eliminated the running game. We very rarely, from May on, had a team attempt to steal a base more than one time. Early in the game Jack would be throwing guys out by 10 feet and it just wasn’t attempted again. It’s a comforting feeling for a pitcher to know they can just focus on location and not worry about throwing over because Jack basically eliminated that.” As good as Loefflad was on the field — hitting better than .400 and earning first-team all-Cape-Atlantic League honors — he was invaluable as a leader and captain of a team that defended its South Jersey championship this season despite being the odds-on favorite and going through the entire year with a target on its back. “It’s real satisfying. When you come into high school you are always looking up to the older kids and you never think you’ll become one of those kids. It’s nice to know that I became one of those guys that the underclassmen would look up to and I led my team in that role,” Loefflad said. Loefflad was an outstanding defensive midfielder for the Mainland soccer team, and could also push forward to be an offensive threat when needed. Loefflad was an outstanding defensive midfielder for the Mainland soccer team, and could also push forward to be an offensive threat when needed. “The thing I liked about Jack and his leadership is that he established himself as a leader in the offseason. He is a guy who didn’t miss any of the voluntary workouts in the winter and he caught a million bullpens in the offseason. He was a great mentor to not only our pitchers, but also our young catchers,” Kern said. “He set the tone in December, January and February when the coaching staff is not around and you need people to take on leadership roles. He really established himself as a captain and a leader, and come springtime when the coaches are around you can rely on a guy who has put in the time and has the respect of his teammates.” While Loefflad’s high school career has come to an end, he’ll have a trunk full of memories and newspaper clippings to carry with him throughout his life. Oh, and a shiny state championship ring. “That was incredible,” Loefflad said of the Mustangs’ 2014 run to a Group 3 state championship. “You couldn’t have written it any better, to have a season like we did and then end it the way we did. It was beyond our wildest dreams. I think I’ve accomplished more than I wanted to. When I came into high school we were a small Group 4 school, so just making the playoffs was big. To win a state championship definitely blew my expectations out of the water.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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