Penn-Trafford baseball team looking at bright future
It didn't take long after the Penn-Trafford baseball team's first-round playoff loss for coach Ron Evans to start thinking about the future.
In fact, it was mere minutes.
“(People are) going to hear a lot from Penn-Trafford next year, that's for sure,” Evans said after the Warriors' 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh Central Catholic on May 13. “This team's going to be very good next year — very good.”
Just over two weeks later, Evans' opinion hasn't changed much.
“We're very optimistic about next year,” Evans said this week.
The optimism isn't unfounded. Penn-Trafford will return all but two starters from the playoff loss to the Vikings, including the WPIAL Class AAAA Pitcher of the Year in rising senior Tyler Smith. Pitcher Ross Orgera and desginated hitter Dom Disso were the Warriors' only senior starters against Central Catholic.
That amount of returning experience should allow the Warriors to contend again for a Section 2-AAAA championship after the team finished second to Hempfield this season.
“That's a heck of a group of kids coming back,” Evans said.
The Warriors will be looking for another pitcher to step up in place of Orgera, who formed a potent 1-2 punch with Smith this season.
Evans said current freshmen Dom Coconcelli and Jake Laing could contribute on the mound next season after pitching at the junior varsity level in 2013, and current sophomores Shane Churma, Shane Mallon and Luke Smeltz will also pitch.
Churma and Smeltz will likely pitch for the Bushy Run American Legion team this summer in order to get ready for next season.
One player who probably won't pitch this summer is Smith, who developed inflammation in his elbow late this season and was unable to pitch in the playoff game. Evans said he thought Smith would rest his arm this summer but expects him to be ready in time for next season.
“I think he has unlimited potential,” Evans said of Smith, who went 5-1 with a 0.83 earned-run average this season. “He's still young, he's still growing. He's going to get bigger, (and) he's going to get stronger.”
This summer's Bushy Run American Legion team will include many of next year's expected contributors. Evans said he and varsity assistant Frank Pecora, one of the Legion coaches, pushed the players to stick together.
“I think it's tremendously important,” Evans said. “We've never had this before — they've gone in 10 different directions. Them playing together is going to be great experience for them and is definitely going to help our chances next year.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.