Despite success, Sewickley Academy baseball still building coach says
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The resurgence of the Sewickley Academy baseball team continued this season.
After reaching the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2006 last season, the Panthers made history this year with their first appearance in the PIAA playoffs.
Despite the success, second-year coach Andrew Heck said the Panthers still have a long way to go.
“I don't think we have turned the corner yet,” Heck said. “It takes years to build programs. I don't think we are satisfied yet. There is still a sour taste of bad baseball for some of the players in the program. They still have the memory of losing close to a tough team and having to bury the season.”
Sewickley Academy (10-7, 5-3 in Section 5-A) fell to Elk County Catholic, 3-2, in the opening round of the PIAA tournament last week. The Crusaders took the lead in the bottom of the fifth after they scored on an error. The Panthers trailed 2-0 until they scored twice in the fifth to draw even.
It was the final game for six seniors on the roster – Ben DiNardo, Christopher Dick, Connor Duddy, Mike Manzinger, Sam Duerr and Tom Pregel.
“I wish I had nine guys like them on the field for every game,” Heck said. “Their drive, their desire, they willingness to work helped this team succeed. They were like another coach on the field. The reason we got were we did was they pushed everyone.”
Despite the loss of talent, the Panthers should expect to see more success next year.
The team will return its top pitchers in Drew Johnson and Joe Nagel. The pair of rising seniors pitched a majority of the innings for Sewickley Academy this season but Heck is still hoping to see some younger players challenge the duo next year.
“Those are our two main guys,” Heck said. “But I want young guys to step up and compete for spots. We had good pitching depth this season, but I would have liked to seen more young guys want the ball more. I am the kind of coach who wants players who want to be in big games.”
The team will also return infielders John Nagel, Derek Littlefield and Drew Zbihly
The Panthers will join Section 3-A next season and compete against Aliquippa, Quigley, Rochester, Union and Western Beaver. With a strong group of returning talent, Heck sees no reason why his squad can't take another step forward and compete for a title in its new home.
“There will be good teams like Rochester and Western Beaver,” Heck said. “But competing for the section title will be a goal. The players are starting to believe in themselves. For a long time, only the big time sports (at) Sewickley Academy like lacrosse, basketball and tennis had accountability and knew they wanted to be better.
“Now baseball is starting to get there. Our biggest challenge is to get these players to keep buying into the system and the belief we can be better.”
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.
- Quinn Construction within 1 game of DNL championship series
- Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
- Inaugural Geibel STEM camp gives pupils interactive, fun science experience
- Grebb league season coming to an end
- Wild finish eliminates Armstrong Junior Legion
- Pa. breeding ground for corruption, experts say
- Car cruises held every week in Connellsville
- Human rights issues cloud Strategic Dialogue meeting between U.S., Egypt
- Law enforcement often feels overwhelmed by Mon Valley’s heroin epidemic
- Developers share their vision for Garden Theater block on North Side
- Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary