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Gateway baseball has strong sophomore class

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Mike Love | Times Express
Senior Adam Salandro is a captain and returning start for the Gateway baseball team.

The Gateway baseball team has seen some rough times of late, but senior catcher Jesse Rossi has been focusing on the bright spots.

After finishing 1-13 last season — including a 0-10 record in WPIAL Section 3-AAAA — Rossi has chosen to forget about last year and instead think back to a win over Plum that vaulted Gateway into the playoffs in 2012.

“It's stuck in my mind personally,” Rossi said. “It was one of the first moments where I felt like part of the team.”

Leadership began to dissolve when the team got off to a rough start last season, so Rossi and fellow captain Adam Salandro are intent on bringing back the same feeling of camaraderie they felt as sophomores.

Now in his fourth year as head coach, Mark Wardzinski is helping his players set up a program with a bright future.

“Gateway is blessed with a lot of athletes,” Wardzinski said. “I could see us being on the rise. The number of athletes that are coming out and playing has definitely increased in the last year or so.”

The growth of Wardzinki's program has had an impact on the present culture as well.

“We fit into the program a lot better,” Rossi said. “It's developed with us so now we know what we have to do.

“I think the coaches have developed with us too. At this point we know what makes each other tick, or how to get reactions from the players.

“It makes the seniors better leaders because we've been able to watch the coaches grow.”

Gateway has set its sights on an immediate turnaround and a return to the playoffs this season.

“We have some young guys who are ready to step up, as well as guys who developed a lot through the winter,” Rossi said. “We're very confident about our chances this year to get back to the playoffs and make something happen.”

The Gators have a full pitching staff of sophomores Jake Haberle and David Wilson, junior Adam Thimons, and seniors Josh Goodemoot and Salandro.

Haberle, Thimons and Salandro are returning starters and Goodemoot pitched for JV as a junior. Wilson has generated some excitement after recovering from a broken femur and torn ACL as a freshman.

“There isn't any one guy who's going to come in and throw seven innings,” Rossi said. “The whole staff is going to get involved. Everyone's focused on the same goal.”

Middle infielder Doug Pollock joins the promising class of sophomores, and will bolster the offense as a balanced hitter.

Haberle has observed Gateway's culture change from the inside and has hopes for a bright future.

“We have a lot of good young talent that will be coming up through the years,” Haberle said. “This year will be a good gauge on what we have right now, but with some of the talent in the middle school and the freshmen , I think we should be good for the rest of my career, and even more than that.”

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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