Seneca Valley riding RHP Coward to top
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Seneca Valley Raiders' quest for an unprecedented three-peat of the WPIAL championship could rest with pitcher Connor Coward.
A perfect regular season on the hill, Coward likely will be the guy to get the starting nod in tough spots come playoff time.
Seneca Valley entered the week ranked as Trib Total Media's top team in Class AAAA.
“Going 5-0 during the regular season was definitely a surprise for me,” Coward said.
“It started with a nonsection game against Shaler, then I threw well in a win against North Allegheny.”
The key to his success, and subsequently that of the Raiders, was that Coward's pitches were hitting the locations he intended on a regular basis.
He has figured out the right time to throw his fastball versus his curve, and with his changeup looking good as well, Coward has been a difficult pitcher to hit.
“When I started out, I was not getting the velocity on my fastball the way I wanted to, so I relied on my curveball early,” Coward said.
“In the last game against NA and Fox Chapel, my velocity was in the mid-to-low 80s. I try to get ahead in the count and work from there.”
Seneca Valley coach Eric Semega is pleased with the work of his junior right-handed starter, and he couldn't say enough about how far he has come this year.
“He hits his spots and has become our go-to guy,” Semega said.
Since baseball is not a perfect world, Coward does get behind at times. So, in those situations, he knows he can count on Semega to call the right pitch for the situation.
Semega shows confidence in his players, and they respond, according to Coward.
“Coach Semega likes to change things up,” Coward said. “I can just relax and throw strikes.”
Coward also credits catchers Brad Gresock and Gianpaul Gonzalez-Cortes with being smart and athletic players who help his confidence.
Gresock, a senior, has been around and knows what it takes to win games.
Gonzalez-Cortes is new to the team this year, but he and Coward have bonded almost instantly on and off the field.
“JP and I are good friends, I have a special trust in him on anything,” Coward said.
“I know he (and Brad, too) will make a block and both can make a throwout at second. They help in those tough situations.”
Another thing that helps in tough situations is a touch of swagger, something the two-time defending WPIAL champions definitely have.
“We know we have a chance to do something great, but to do that, you have to know you are good,” Coward said.
“You have to know that when you step in the batter's box … in section, nonsection and now playoffs, you have to be confident, not go in cocky.”
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
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.
- Police officer reported wounded in New Florence; suspect at-large
- Thomas Jefferson uses defense, running game to capture WPIAL title
- Central Catholic wins 5th WPIAL football title
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Four downs: Steelers might still be Adams’ best bet
- WPIAL Class AAA notes: Title games draw 16,500 to Heinz Field
- Aliquippa wins 16th WPIAL title, ends South Fayette’s 44-game winning streak
- Steelers notebook: Brown downplays possible matchup against Seahawks’ Sherman
- Funding highway bill atop Rep. Shuster’s agenda
- Steelers find success vs. NFC
- Robert Morris defeats Mississippi Valley State for 1st victory of season