By Ed Morlock Updated: June 13, 2016
It is not an easy accomplishment to finish your high school career with 12 varsity letters.
An athlete must be one of the best at three different sports as a freshman and needs to have a diverse set of skills to play varsity during three different seasons for four years.
That’s just what Cole Swiger did.
In the fall he played golf for three years and football as a senior. He competed in indoor track for four years in the winter, doing the 60-meter dash, 4×400 relay and hurdles.
But it’s what he did in the spring that he’s best at.
Swiger started varsity baseball for four years and is the 2016 Times Herald Player of the Year.
“I’ve noticed I would want to put in the hard work in (baseball) because it didn’t really seem like hard work,” he said, comparing baseball to the other sports. “I enjoyed doing it the most and I had the most fun with it. I enjoy the challenge of the game. I enjoy how hard it is. You’re even set up to fail in the game of baseball — you can still be considered a great player if you fail seven out of 10 times.”
The Cardinals were the best team in the area this season, winning the Suburban One League American Conference title for the second straight season and Swiger was a big reason why.
The senior — who spent his final junior and senior seasons batting in the No. 3 spot — hit .400 against league opponents with seven doubles, two triples, 17 RBI and 16 runs scored. He had a triple in a non-league game and the 10 extra base hits is the most Swiger has ever had in high school.
“I felt my power certainly went up in the offseason,” he said. “Although I didn’t hit any home runs, I felt like I was making solid contact throughout the year.
“I try to work hard and take a lot of swings in the offseason, but I think it was maturing and being patient at the plate, waiting for pitches that I like.”
Maybe more importantly, however, was what Swiger provided on the mound. He pitched in eight league games and went 5-0 with one save. He posted a 1.235 ERA over 39.2 innings.
“Throughout his four-year varsity career, he was able to get better every year,” Upper Dublin coach Ed Wall said. “Every season he grew in a different way. This season it was his pitching that he took to the next level. Last year it was his hitting and his fielding. He’s been a great example of the type of player that we look to have at Upper Dublin.”
It’s even more impressive when you look at which games Swiger got the ball. He faced Wissahickon — last year’s co-league champion and this year’s third-place finisher — in the season opener and dazzled with a complete game four-hitter.
He also pitched both Upper Moreland games, which came in the final two weeks of the season. The teams were separated by one game in the loss column each time they played and Upper Dublin won both games. Swiger was hit around in the first game before the Cardinals mounted a late rally, but he was dominant in the rematch a week later. On Upper Moreland’s home field, Swiger hurled a complete game four-hitter and allowed just two runs to help Upper Dublin clinch its second straight league championship.
“I wasn’t going to allow myself to feel the pressure (of pitching key games),” Swiger, who also started the Cardinals’ District 1 Class AAAA playoff win over Harriton, said, “because I felt there was no point to put more pressure than there was on myself. I tried to just have fun with it, try to win games and just be like a bulldog out there.”
After the season he was named a First Team All-SOL American outfielder and Second Team pitcher.
Swiger will be continuing his baseball career and education at Bloomsburg University, where he was recruited for his speed and hitting ability and won’t be pitching.
“Once I went (to Bloomsburg), I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “The coach saw me at the Carpenter Cup last year and I went there right away. I got a great feeling from the coach. He seemed very confident in all of his players and the guys he was trying to bring in to recruit.
“I liked the campus. It was a solid size for me — not too many kids, not too little. I know that it would give me a great opportunity to succeed in baseball and academics.”
Swiger and fellow seniors Conor McFadden, Thomas Juelke, Steve Bell, Dan Sidell, Andrew McDermott, Josh Bachman and Noah Ruiz had quite the run at Upper Dublin. Swiger has played with McFadden, Juelke and Bell the longest, but they all started playing together in middle school and they knew then their run over the next handful of years would be special. It’s something they are never going to forget.
“We could tell it was going to be a fun group for however long we were going to play together,” Swiger said. “It was a good ride. It was a great group of guys to spend that time with.
“I’m really going to look back on (my time at Upper Dublin) as a very welcoming experience. We had a great baseball community, especially when I was going in there and all of them welcomed me in as a freshman. It felt like a big family by the time I was leaving for my senior year for the last few games. It’s tough when you have to leave that type of group. It’s just a very close group that wants to win. I can just say it was a very rewarding experience.”
Wall believes that Swiger left a legacy at Upper Dublin that will continue to help the team even when he is off at college playing for the Huskies due to his hard-working, last-one-to-leave approach to training.
The Cardinals went away as a team during spring break and asked the players to name a current player and a former player that they look up to and admire. Swiger was on 75% of the player’s lists.
“He’s not just a very good baseball player,” Wall said. “He’s a great person. He loves to help others and a lot of that has to do with his parents. He’s got great parents. He’s definitely going to be missed in our program.”