Irwin Legion returns to District 31 play
Irwin American Legion sat out last year's District 31 baseball season, but Tom Hussey knew the hiatus wouldn't last long given the successes of the Norwin baseball program and the general interest in the game in the area.
When Hussey was approached about restarting the program for this summer he jumped at the opportunity, and the team is back on the field.
“We're a baseball community,” said Hussey, who previously helped with the Norwin recreation and youth programs. “We knew we would get the kids. It was just a matter of getting the word out and getting them to commit. We have commitment from them, and I'm thrilled about it. I have a great group.
Irwin was 1-3 in the early going and had games scheduled at Latrobe on Thursday and at Derry on Friday, past the deadline for this edition.
Once word spread there was an effort to restart the program, it didn't take long for Hussey to assemble a team.
Hussey said he has 14 players on the roster, and they are a mix of varsity and junior varsity players at Norwin. Craig Charron, who previously coached Irwin, is back on the staff as an assistant. Irwin plays its home games at Norwin.
Billy Kerston, Javier Rosado, Vincent Oddo, Alfredo Calub, Garrett Senchur and Evan Kline are listed as pitchers, but will likely see time in, as well. Christian Kubacka, Nick Kervo, Logan Liebzinski, Owen Sabol, Derek Turcovski, Brian Woods, Ronald Howard and Michael Ryan are listed as position players.
Most of the players are either sophomores or juniors and will be looking to contribute at the high school level next spring.
“We're young, but this is a great opportunity for them to gain additional experience that they'll hopefully be able to use for next year,” Hussey said. “We're a team by committee. Everyone is going to have the opportunity to step up for us this year.”
Hussey has liked the fight his team has shown in the early going.
Irwin fell 11-5 in its opener against Latrobe, but rebounded to win 15-3 over Young Township. Last week, the team dropped a pair of one-run games, 2-1 to Unity and 6-5 to West Hempfield.
“We've battled,” Hussey said. “We haven't quit in any games. We've been competitive in all of them. We've probably had three bad innings overall or those games could've went differently. I couldn't be happier with how we are progressing.”
District 31 has a dozen teams this season with eight making the playoffs. Playing tight with Unity and West Hempfield has Irwin hopeful that with continued improvement those close losses will become victories. There's a long way to go with the season running until early July, and Hussey is still getting a feel for the league in his first season. One thing is certain though, he is happy Irwin is back.
“We're having a blast,” Hussey said. “Even though the record early in the season might not indicate it, we're playing well. Everyone is doing a good job, all things considered.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.