Tribune-Review Baseball Terrific 10: Latrobe's Zach Kokoska earns Player of the Year
Latrobe senior center fielder Zach Kokoska couldn't have asked for a better senior season.
He helped Latrobe capture its first WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A titles, and he was named the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year for Pennsylvania.
Those accomplishments also were a big reason why Kokoska was named the Tribune-Review Baseball Player of the Year.
While he wasn't selected in the recent Major League Baseball draft, Kokoska is looking forward to helping the Virginia Tech program become a power in the ACC.
Success has followed Kokoska during his baseball career. He helped the West Point 1-year-old all-stars win a state title, and he was a key member on the team that fell to Keystone (Lock Haven) in the finals in the Major Division (12 years old).
Kokoska batted .538, with a school-record five home runs, six doubles and a team-high 42 hits, along with 29 RBIs and 30 runs scored. On the mound, he was 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA.
What made this Latrobe team so special?
Everyone believed in each other. We never gave up no matter what situation we were in. In a lot of those big games, it came down to who wanted it more, and I felt we had more desire. We knew how to win tight games.
Do you believe close games throughout the season helped you prepare for the grind of the playoffs?
We developed a belief that we were never out of games. I believe the close games prepared us for tough situations, and we knew how to handle them. We developed a lot of character.
Were you surprised that you weren't selected in the Major League Baseball draft?
I thought I could have gotten drafted. I talked to some scouts who didn't want to take me high, and that's OK. That money wouldn't have been what I wanted. My plan is to go to Virginia Tech, improve my game and make the teams that thought I wasn't worthy of a higher draft pick pay. It gives more incentive to work harder in college.
Why did you decide to play at Virginia Tech?
The campus is awesome. It has everything I want in a school. We have a new coaching staff that will turnaround the program, and I want to be part of it. It's a place where I believe I will be able to excel in the classroom and on the baseball field.
What will you remember the most about your high school career?
Being part of a team that won the WPIAL and PIAA championships, the first in school history. I'm not one on individual stuff; it's was more rewarding to help my teammates achieve these titles.
You were part of the West Point Little League all-star team that was a win away from winning the state title. What do you remember about the team?
We won the state title as 11 year olds. We played a great team (Keystone) and came up short. We had a great team. Jared Kollar, Austin Butler, Branson Auckerman, Jordan Fiedor and Charlie Varriano were part of that team. We also had a great team.
Tribune-Review Terrific 10 Baseball All-Stars
Mt. Pleasant, Sr., p/of
The Pitt-Johnstown recruit batted .467 with 28 hits and 20 RBIs. He had seven doubles. He also was 5-2 with a 4.17 ERA. He struck out 37 and walked 11 in 42 innings.
Jeannette, Jr., ss
He helped lead the Jayhawks to their first WPIAL Class A baseball title. He batted .434 with 19 runs scores and 30 RBIs.
Hempfield, Sr., of
The Seton Hill recruit hit .371 with 14 RBIs, four doubles and 18 runs scored. Hempfield ended up finishing second in its section.
Latrobe, sr. p/ss
He was 9-1 with an ERA of 1.55 and was the winning pitcher in the WPIAL and PIAA championship games. As a leadoff hitter, he hit .360 with 21 RBI and a team-high seven doubles. He is attending Seton Hill.
Greensburg CC, Sr., p
The tall right-hander and Seton Hill recruit had a 7-1 record with a 0.26 ERA. He walked 19 and struck out 85. He batted .431 with 28 hits.
Greensburg Salem, Sr., p
Shaw hopes to play baseball and wrestle for Seton Hill. He was 4-4 with a 1.69 ERA. The right-hander throws a submarine pitch. He struck out 37 and walked 11. He helped the Golden Lions reach the WPIAL playoffs.
Latrobe, Sr., P/SS
He was 10-0 on the mound with an ERA of 0.56. He struck out 60 and walked seven. He committed one error. He will be attending Chatham.
Penn-Trafford, Jr., c
The Oklahoma State commit is an outstanding catcher. He batted .429, including 14 extra-base hits (eight doubles, a triple and five HRs). He also had a team-high 23 RBIs.
Norwin, Jr., inf.
He batted .469 in 17 games to help Norwin reach the WPIAL playoffs. He had 23 hits, six doubles, 16 runs scored, 14 RBIs and an on base percentage of .552.
Zack Blystone, Derry, Sr., INF
Braden Brose, Hempfield, Jr., P/1B
Dom Charletta, Yough, Sr., CF
Anthony Colella, Greensburg CC, Sr., P
Tre Cunningham, Jeannette, So., P
Garrett Custer, Ligonier Valley, Sr., P
Isaiah DiAndreth, Hempfield, Jr., SS
Brady Duricko, Mt. Pleasant, Sr., C
Brian Hellested Penn-Trafford, Sr., P
Jack Oberdorf, Greensburg Salem, So., SS