Holy Cross Player Swings into Senior Year

By Steve Svetovich

Holy Cross High School junior catcher-DH J.J. Backus has done nothing but hit the ball hard since joining the team as a sophomore after transferring from Scranton Prep.

Son of Jimmy and Terri Backus, the talented junior led the Lackawanna League Division III in hits with 20 and finished second in the league with a .455 batting average. He finished the season red hot at the plate with a flurry of three-hit games. Holy Cross finished 8-6 this season.

As a sophomore, he batted .475 and belted his first high school home runs. He received first team honorable mention for his feats as a sophomore. He helped his team to an impressive 10-3 record.

J.J. is an honor student with a 3.0 grade point average at Holy Cross. He is a right guard and defensive tackle on the football team. He is a member of the Foreign Languages club and the Pro Life club.

The hard-working scholar-athlete said his favorite academic subjects are biology and history. He hopes to study biology/pre medicine in college with hopes of becoming a doctor or going into radiology.

J.J., always humble and polite, also plays Senior American Legion Baseball for Green Ridge. He is a graduate of the North Scranton Little League and played five years of travel baseball for the Scranton Miners.

He will be attending various college baseball showcases this summer. He previously attended baseball showcases at Duke University, Hofstra University and in Easton.

“The showcases were a great experience,” he said. “The showcase at Duke was especially great. It was really intense. You got to live at Duke like a real player. There was a lot of good competition and it was a lot of fun.”

J.J. talked about what it takes to be a good catcher in high school baseball. “You really have to know the game. You have to be ready at all times and know the situation. You get to view the whole field. You need to be vocal and loud. You need to be a leader on the field. And you have to back up a lot and know where to be on the field.”

The heavy hitter said he definitely plans on playing baseball in college. He is undecided as to where he wants to go at this point, but did enjoy visiting the University of South Carolina at Buford. The college is near Hilton Head Island.

J.J. said he has learned a lot from Holy Cross High School veteran baseball coach Sandy Menichetti. “He taught me a lot about the game. He taught me a lot about knowing the situation and baseball smarts. He helped me a lot with my hitting too.”

The junior catcher said he owes a lot to his parents. “My parents have taught me so much about everything. If I am in a slump, they tell me to keep trying and always do my best. They tell me not to make things too complicated. My dad is at every game. He always tells me before each game to stick to the basics. Don’t complicate things.”

J.J. Backus has been smoking the ball in the batter’s box for the past several years and is a genuine student of the game. You won’t find a more coachable or mature kid on a ball field.

And It is easy to see how much J.J. loves the game.

He has one year left at Holy Cross and then a bright baseball and academic future is sure to follow.