Share This Page

Norwin's J.J. Matijevic named Greensburg Tribune-Review Baseball Player of the Year

| Saturday, June 21, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

J.J. Matijevic

Norwin, senior, shortstop

It was quite a senior season for Norwin shortstop J.J. Matijevic.

He finished as the WPIAL's triple crown winner by leading District 7 with a .567 batting average, 10 home runs and 37 RBIs, earning him Tribune-Review Baseball Player of the Year honors.

He had 90 RBIs, 88 hits and 18 home runs in 61 career games.

A left-handed hitter, Matijevic recently had quite a career decision to make — play college baseball for Arizona University or begin his professional career in the Boston Red Sox organization.

He was a 22nd round pick of the Red Sox during the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on June 7.

Matijevic decided last weekend that he will attend Arizona on a scholarship.

“It was very tough decision,” he said. “The Red Sox have been my favorite team and it was an honor to be drafted by them. But I like the atmosphere and coaches at Arizona. Assistant coach Matt Siegel and I have a great bond, and I'm looking forward to playing with my new teammates.

“Hopefully in three years, I get drafted again.”

What stands out in your high school career?

My senior season. I was close with my teammates, we bonded and it was memorable. Playing with those guys, we had a great time even though the season didn't end like we hoped. We enjoyed it. Triple Crown, it's a great feeling and a great accomplishment. I was very surprised to do it.

What do you remember about your first baseball camp?

It was at Westmoreland County Community College. It's where I got started and Coach (Mike) Draghi taught me a lot. He's a great coach and it was a great camp.

Besides baseball and basketball, what other sports did you play?

I played football until my freshman season. I thought about playing as a senior. I would have loved to play middle linebacker. I loved the physical play and hitting people.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I like giving little kids hitting lessons. I wanted to give something back to the community. I like going to the (Baseball) Academy and giving lessons and making them better at hitting. Watch out for Ron Howard, a little lefty. He works hard. Brady Kukich is another hard worker.

What music do you listen to?

I used to listen to rap, but now I switched to county music. My friends would be surprised about that.

Who was someone you looked up to growing up?

(New York Yankees shortstop) Derek Jeter. He's a great leader and a great captain. He'll be missed. That's why I play shortstop in high school. Another person is my uncle (Matt Fajt). We lift together and he's always pushing me.

What's the biggest change in your game since freshman year?

My body, my speed and my foot work. I got a lot stronger and I'm quicker. Those are the biggest differences in my game and it shows.

DREW DeBERRY•LAUREL HIGHLANDS, SR., CF

The Mustangs center fielder, who is undecided about his future, batted .486, with 27 runs scored, 35 hits, 20 RBIs, five doubles, three triples and 19 stolen bases. He helped Laurel Highlands breeze to a section 2-AAA championship this season.

JOEY DeFLORIA•HEMPFIELD, SR., CF

The Bucknell football recruit batted .410 for the WPIAL Class AAAA Section 2 champions. He also had 21 runs, 20 RBIs and three home runs from the leadoff position. DeFloria rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns during football season.

MARC DEMILIO•HEMPFIELD, SR., P

The Gannon University recruit was 6-0 with an ERA of 1.84. He was the top pitcher on the team and helped the Spartans earn the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. He did, however, miss the playoffs because of a late-season arm injury.

JOSH LUKO CALIFORNIA, SR., P/1B

A Cal (Pa.) recruit, Luko was 10-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59 13 innings for the WPIAL Class A champion. The right-hander allowed only 34 hits and two walks. He threw two no-hitters and two one-hitters and pitched a complete game in the WPIAL final.

MITCH MATLAS•MT. PLEASANT, SR., OF

The Alderson-Broaddus recruit led the Vikings in numerous categories. The two-time Terrific 10 selection batted .389 (21 for 66) and also led the team in hits (21), runs scored (19), doubles (6), home runs (1), stolen bases (7), slugging percentage (.592) and on-base percentage plus slugging (1.063).

MAX PONZURICK•GREENSBURG SALEM, SR., 3B

The Virginia Tech recruit batted .350 and led the Golden Lions with 17 runs scored and 21 RBIs. The infielder had 17 hits, including nine that went for extra bases. He also belted four home runs this season. His on base average was .500.

Cole Reese

GREENSBURG CENTRAL CATHOLIC, JR., CF

The only underclassman on the Terrific 10 team led Greensburg Central Catholic with a .449 batting average. He scored 12 runs and had 22 hits, 16 RBIs, three doubles and 12 stolen bases this season.

tyler smith penn-trafford, sr., P/3B

The Canisius recruit ranked among the WPIAL's pitching and hitting leaders. Smith batted .493 (33 for 67) with five home runs, 20 runs and 35 RBIs. On the mound, he was 6-3 with a 1.51 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 51 innings. In one game, Smith had three hits, a homer, five RBIs and struck out 10 to earn the win.

SEAN THOMPSON•INDIANA, SR., P

The Virginia Commonwealth University recruit batted .446 with 29 hits, 25 RBIs, six doubles and two home runs. He also was 4-1 with a 0.67 ERA, with 62 strikeouts and 11 walks for the Little Indians. A two-time Terrific 10 selection, he hit .414 with 15 RBIs last season.

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.