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Chartiers Valley baseball finding itself early

Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item - Chartiers Valley's Dom Castello prepares to pitch during the Colts' 2-0 win against Canon-McMillan on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at Woodville Field.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item</em></div>Chartiers Valley's Dom Castello prepares to pitch during the Colts' 2-0 win against Canon-McMillan on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at Woodville Field.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item - Chartiers Valley's Brady Gulikowski connects on a hit during the Colts' 2-0 win over Canon-McMillan on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at Woodville Field.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item</em></div>Chartiers Valley's Brady Gulikowski connects on a hit during the Colts' 2-0 win over Canon-McMillan on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at Woodville Field.

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While the Chartiers Valley baseball team opened the season with a 5-1 loss to Mt. Lebanon, coach Jim Jaskowski's excitement for the season wasn't diminished.

He would rather see his team get challenged early by a strong program than get an easy win.

“Last year we had a false sense of who we were because of the schedule,” Jaskowski said. “If you play a better team, it will help you get better. We want to find out who we are.”

Leading the Colts on the mound will be senior Josh LaPiana. The Akron recruit was described as a player the team can lean on.

“You have to have a No. 1,” Jaskowski said. “You need to have a guy who can beat everyone he faces. It helps the team psychologically having that kind of pitcher, and (LaPiana) is that guy.

“He worked hard in the offseason and has a real good idea what he wants to accomplish this season. He prepares himself well.”

Senior Dom Castello will also see time on the mound as well as junior Nick Jennings and Nick Kane and as sophomore Cole Horew.

Castello may be one of the most versatile players on the Chartiers Valley roster. A four-year varsity player, Castello has played in a different spot each season, including catcher, third base and second base.

The senior got the Colts their first win of the season last week, throwing a one-hitter in a 2-0 decision over Canon-McMillan,

“He is a rock,” Jaskowski said. “He is a solid player. He has been more of a quiet guy but this year he is being more vocal.”

Castello will just be one of several players who can fill a void across the field. Junior Jake Ritson can fill in at shortstop, in the outfield or on the mound. Junior Brady Gulakowski can play catcher or the infield.

“This team is a lot different than the last couple years,” Jaskowski said. “There is a stronger work ethic and a lot more toughness. I think this will lead to good things. The team is hungry.”

The team will have several players who can get the job done, including Gulakowski, senior C.J. Beatty and junior Tanner Garris.

Strong bats will be needed in a tough Section 3-AAA.

Keystone Oaks – the team that eliminated the Colts from the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs last season in a 4-3 quarterfinal decision – will be a favorite to win the section title after reaching the PIAA semifinals last year. The Golden Eagles return Penn State commit Taylor Lehman.

Chartiers Valley is notoverlooking any team in the section. The Colts have high expectations for the season but they won't be reached if the squad takes its eyes off the game in front of them.

“We are going to prepare for everyone the same,” Jaskowski said. “If we take steps through the year, we have a shot of having a good season. The section comes first but our goals are higher.

“The WPIAL title is something we have come close to in the past and we feel remains a realistic goal this season.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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