Latrobe Legion team prepares for summer season
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Latrobe has advanced to the District 31 Westmoreland County American Legion baseball playoffs in each of thepast 21 seasons.
For coach Jason Bush and his son, assistant coach Zach Bush, one of many team goals for this season is to continue those winning ways and raise that playoff streak to No. 22.
“Our goals since this coaching staff has started has remained the same since the last coaching staff; the goals are kind of chronological,” Zach Bush said. “The first one is to make the playoffs. Next goal, obviously, is to win our division. The next one is win the district regular season, and then it gets into the playoffs — win the first round, win the district, move on to the regional tournament.”
The 12-team league, which Jason Bush compared to the level of play in WPIAL Class AAAA baseball, consists of teams ranging throughout Westmoreland County and runs from late May into July. The league is available to boys ranging from ages 15-19.
With so many players looking to play summer baseball, areas like Latrobe and Hempfield are split into two teams based on where a player lives to accommodate everyone.
“There's going to be guys that play for Unity and play for Latrobe that turned a double play probably this year together,” Jason Bush said. “This summer they're going to be playing against each other.”
The Latrobe team primarily is composed of players who played on the Latrobe High School team, which finished 8-10 overall and 6-6 in Section 2-AAAA.
But the team also features two players from Ligonier Valley, Eddie Kilkeary from Greensburg Central Catholic, as well as two players who just finished their freshman seasons in college.
The team will be led on the mound by Ryan Bisi, who plays for Bethany College, and Dom Shojaie, a player on George Mason's club baseball team. Both players played in high school for Latrobe.
Another key member of the pitching staff is Jonathan Kolling, who threw a no-hitter this season in Latrobe's 7-0 win over Kiski Area.
Kilkeary, a key member of Greensburg Central Catholic's team that advanced to the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals this season, will play catcher and in the outfield for Latrobe this summer. Kilkeary hit .403 with two home runs and 17 RBI this year for the Centurions.
While the coaching staff noted this team may not have one star player, the club's depth could be its strength.
“One of the things that I think is going to be a unique challenge for (the coaching staff) this year is I'm not sure that there's a whole lot of difference between our fourth- and 14th-best player,” said Jason Bush, entering his 14th season with Latrobe and his eighth as head coach. “So a lot of times the lineup might be dictated by who might be hot, who might be cold, what might be a better matchup. I think we have a solid roster from 1-18.”
“We've had a lot of turnover from last year. We have 11 new players coming on the roster, and we're going to be young,” Zach Bush added. “But I think what separates this team from teams in the past is they pay very close attention to details of the game.”
But beyond the wins and losses, American Legion baseball is simply a good way for local players to continue to play baseball after their high school season comes to a close.
“I'm a huge proponent of Legion baseball,” Jason Bush said. “I think No. 1, as far as the game itself, it allows the kids to have somewhere to play. They're able to play for their community. We always talk about taking pride in the fact that they have Latrobe on their jersey and no names on their back, because they want to play for their team. Sometimes this is one of the last seasons that you're going to get to play baseball, so some of these guys are really motivated for their last hurrah.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Liriano, Pirates complete sweep of Tigers
- Kessel ‘excited’ to be a Penguin
- Hurricanes owner rips Rutherford, Penguins
- Attorney General’s twin sister sued by FBI agent ex-boyfriend
- Wolf vetoes bill privatizing Pennsylvania’s liquor system
- Man who threatened to jump from bridge in custody
- Blairsville-Saltsburg School District looks to fill music, buildings and grounds positions
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Greensburg’s Trinity United Church of Christ sprucing up
- United School Board finalizes 1.7-mill tax increase
- Westmoreland Area Agency on Aging lends support to caregivers