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Greensburg Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Franklin Regional's Danny McGrath, Jeannette's Nicole Hall

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Franklin Regional baseball player Danny McGrath
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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Andrew John
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Danny McGrath

School: Franklin Regional

Class: Senior

Sport: Baseball

Claim to fame: McGrath, who has a .519 batting average (27 for 52), went 2 for 4 with two RBI and hit a walk-off double to lead Franklin Regional (11-3, 5-2) to a 2-1 win over Baldwin in Section 3-AAAA play on April 25. McGrath, the team's leadoff hitter and captain, has five doubles, two triples, 17 RBI and 21 runs scored.

“I'm very pleased with how I have played this season,” McGrath said. “I hope to keep it going, especially as we go into the playoffs. I owe this all to my teammates and coaches. My teammates have been able to turn over the lineup and be on base for me. My coaches have told us to concentrate more when there are strikes.”

What are your plans for college this season?

I'm going to play baseball at California, Pa. I really like the campus a lot. I didn't want to go somewhere that had a huge campus. I fell in love with it out there. I want to study communications, and I wanted to get involved with television or radio. I thought it would be a good place for me.

What does the team need to do to advance in the playoffs?

Well, our bats are carrying us a lot. Our defense is coming along as of late. We are coming around at the same time. Our pitching is doing well and giving us a chance to win. I think with this happening we are becoming one of the teams to beat in the WPIAL.

Who is your Major League Baseball idol, and why?

I would have to say Derek Jeter is my true baseball idol. As long I can remember I was wearing the number 2. It sucks that he is down and out with an ankle injury. I can't wait to see him play when he comes back.

What got you interested in communications?

I would probably have to say because in my house the morning the news is always on. I like to watch “SportsCenter” a lot. I would like do something like that because they always look like they are having fun. I would probably say Stuart Scott is my favorite anchor. He has a lot of personality, and I loved watching the show when he was on it more often.

What's one thing people might not know about you?

Probably the fact I like to go to bed early. I like to make it to bed around 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. on the weeknights. I don't like being down and out the next day if I stayed up later.

Nicole Hall

School: Jeannette

Class: Junior

Sport: Softball

Claim to fame: Hall, who is 8-3 with a 2.08 ERA and 49 strikeouts, had two RBI and threw a complete game for Jeannette (11-3, 8-2) in a 6-5 win over Leechburg (8-4, 7-2) on April 23. Hall, who is batting .370 with 28 RBI, two doubles, a triple and a home run, went 4 for 5 with a double and six RBI in a 20-1 win over Springdale on April 18.

“With batting, I have done pretty good but there is always room for improvement,” Hall said. “For pitching, I have been doing good, but it's easy when you have a good team backing you up. That is what my team has done for me this year.”

What does the team need to do with the playoffs coming up?

We are trying to start off earlier. We have been getting off to slow starts in games. We need to play as a team and come together to win games, and hopefully we can win the section.

Which one do you prefer, batting or pitching, and why?

Batting is definitely more fun. Pitching can get boring sometimes because you are doing the same thing over and over again.

What softball player have you looked up to?

Someone I definitely look up to is Jennie Finch. My mom and I watched her in the Olympics.

If you had a chance to go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

It definitely would be UCLA. They are located in a nice area and they have a legendary softball team, which is very well known.

What would you say you have improved on this season?

I would have to say the ability to keep my cool throughout games because that is always important as a pitcher. It's something that allows your teammates to stay calm and also stay positive.

— Andrew John

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