Colan Miller has a way of sneaking up on opponents.
The same can be said for the Camden Catholic baseball team.
Like their senior righthanded pitcher, the Irish began the season in the shadows. But they will step into the spotlight on Saturday.
"We've been overlooked the whole time I've been here," Miller said.
Camden Catholic could be classified as one of the most surprising qualifiers for the 40th annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic tournament, which begins today with doubleheaders at four sites.
Camden Catholic (13-7) made the field as the Olympic Conference's National Division representative, ahead of teams in The Inquirer's Top 10 such as No. 5 Cherry Hill West and No. 6 Bishop Eustace, as well as perennial participant Paul VI.
"It's a huge deal for us," Miller said. "Nobody thought we would be leading our division this late in the season. It feels good."
Miller likely will get the baseball as Camden Catholic's starting pitcher when the Irish face Tri-County power and ninth-ranked Williamstown (10-6), which earned an at-large berth, in a first-round game at 1 p.m. at Overbrook.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Miller, who lives in Pennsauken, said he has been underrated for most of his baseball career because of his physical stature.
"I've been overlooked since I was little," Miller said. "It doesn't bother me. I'm used to it."
Camden Catholic coach Bob Bergholtz said Miller surprises opponents with a live fastball as well as an effective breaking pitch.
"He's a bulldog," Bergholtz said. "People look at him physically, and they can't understand how he can throw the ball by somebody. But it never fazes him. He just goes out there and pitches."
Miller worked a complete game in a 7-2 victory over Timber Creek on Monday. He allowed just four hits and struck out six.
"He's impressive," Timber Creek coach David Clune said. "He's always around the plate, and he knows what he's doing out there."
Although Camden Catholic has a lineup heavy on juniors, Bergholtz credits Miller and the rest of the seniors with providing the leadership that has turned the Irish into one of South Jersey's surprising teams.
Bergholtz, a second-year coach, said Miller has gotten the baseball in "almost every big game" over the last two seasons, as the Irish have won a combined 25 games, including 12 division games, and pushed into prominence.
This season, Miller is 2-1 with a 4.45 ERA. He has struck out 37 in 33 innings. He has left the game with the lead in two games that turned into no-decisions, according to Bergholtz.
The Irish are in the thick of the race for the Olympic National title along with Bishop Eustace and Cherry Hill West.
But Miller knows his team can make an even more emphatic statement with a deep run in the Diamond Classic, which features 16 of South Jersey's best teams in a single-elimination tournament.
"We're extremely determined," Miller said. "We've been overlooked and everybody probably still overlooks us, but we're going to go out on Saturday and show everyone we can play baseball."
Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic
Saturday's First Round
At Maple Shade:
Delsea vs. Audubon, 10:30 a.m.
Washington Township vs. Gloucester Catholic, 1 p.m.
Cherry Hill West vs. Buena, 10:30 a.m.
Vineland vs. Northern Burlington, 1 p.m.
West Deptford vs. Pitman, 10:30 a.m.
Williamstown vs. Camden Catholic, 1 p.m.
At Washington Township:
Bishop Eustace vs. New Egypt, 10:30 a.m.
Eastern vs. St. Augustine, 1 p.m.