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St. Louis selects Seneca Valley grad Coward

Michael Love
| Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 8:09 p.m.
Seneca Valley's Connor Coward pitches for Virginia Tech.
Courtesy Virginia Tech
Seneca Valley's Connor Coward pitches for Virginia Tech.

Connor Coward, a Seneca Valley graduate and senior right-handed pitcher at Virginia Tech, was selected by St. Louis on Wednesday in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

The Cardinals picked Coward in the 26th round (783rd overall).

“This is as ideal as it could be for me,” said Coward about joining the Cardinals organization.

“They've had a great reputation of bringing up minor league players and fostering growth. I look forward to the opportunity of growing in the system.”

Coward capped his Hookies career this spring and finished with a 10-12 career record and 5.71 ERA on the mound with 31 starts in 63 appearances in four seasons. He struck out 193 batters in 208 career innings.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to compete against some of the top teams and players in the country in the ACC,” Coward said. “All of the experiences the past couple of years have prepared me to take that next step in professional baseball.”

Coward might be best remembered for his senior season at Seneca Valley in 2014 when he returned from a back injury to lead the Raiders to the WPIAL Quad-A championship.

As the 16th seed, Seneca Valley knocked off No. 1 Hempfield, and Coward made his season debut with six scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory over Shaler in the quarterfinals.

Coward picked up the win against Pine-Richland in the semifinals and was on the hill for the title victory as the Raiders rallied past Baldwin, 5-2.

It was Seneca Valley's third WPIAL title in four seasons.

The team went on to win two games in the PIAA playoffs before bowing out in the state semifinals. The Raiders went 6-1 in the postseason after a 6-11 regular season.

“It's awesome for Connor, and he deserves it,” Seneca Valley coach Eric Semega said.

“He's worked so hard. I reached out to him today to congratulate him. I look forward to seeing him progress and watching him in the show in the future.”

Coward was the second WPIAL alum to be chosen over the three days of the draft. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Angels selected Penn-Trafford graduate Tyler Smith, a senior pitcher at Canisius, in the eighth round (241st pick).

A round after Coward was selected, former Butler infielder Nick Patten, who played at the University of Delaware, was picked by the Pirates.

Others with WPIAL ties chosen Wednesday were Baldwin grad Alex Pantuso (Slippery Rock, pitcher) by Oakland in the 31st round and Beaver grad Austin Ross (Radford, pitcher) by Philadelphia in the 35th round.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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