WCCC looks to return to playoffs
Westmoreland County Community College baseball coach Mike Draghi doesn't worry about wins and losses. Maybe that's why his team finished fourth in the nation last year.
"We talk very little about winning and losing," Draghi said. "We focus on the fundamentals and everything else seems to fall in place."
Draghi's Wolfpack earned a trip to the NJCAA Division 3 World Series last season. They eventually lost in the semifinals to Ridgewater Community College out of Minnesota, but Draghi contends the experience set the precedent for this season.
"The last thing I told the team last year was that 'you guys have set the bar very high for the teams of the future,' " Draghi said. "In addition to the six players returning from last season, we have probably the best recruiting class of freshman we've had, talent-wise, this year."
WCCC, sporting a 7-3 overall and a 4-0 section record, returns Gabe Dunmire (infield, pitcher), Shawn Schwarz (infield, pitcher), Jon Jacquette (catcher, pitcher), Justin Dickert (infield, pitcher), Jon Ferrero (outfield, infield) and Matt Watkiss (infield) from last year's squad.
"It'd be great to duplicate our success from last year," said Watkiss, who's batting .417 this season. "I think we can do the same, with a lot more freshman talent this season."
Freshman right fielder Josh Burrell, who's batting .387 this year, is one of the team's standouts in the batter's box.
"Josh is one of our better hitters right now, Draghi said. "Along with Josh, Ryan Conrad is doing a real good job behind the plate and, offensively, is swinging the bat pretty well."
Former Tribune-Review High School Player of the Year Bobby Reeping is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA this year.
"Bobby is starting to settle in and is doing a good job for us this year," Draghi said. "We school our pitchers in different drills to develop their confidence. If most pitchers have a 3-0 count, they'll throw a fastball, a pitch they're comfortable with. We tell our pitchers to throw a change-up."
With solid pitching this season, Draghi believes that team competition is one of the key factors that makes WCCC a threat.
"Our guys are battling and competing with each other within the confines of the team at practice to see who's going to play today," Draghi said.
Freshman Ryan Marmol, who's hitting a whopping .556 with four RBI, echoed Draghi's sentiments.
"Our team unity and competitiveness with each other will take us a long way," Marmol said. "We have a lot of very athletic guys, and some little things to work on, but I think we can do really well this year."
With 20 conference games left in the season, Watkiss believes Draghi's attitude is what makes the team try hard and play competitively.
"It's a learning process to him," Watkiss said. "He keeps his cool in both wins and losses. We only had 15 kids on the roster when we played in the World Series tournament. The other teams had like 23 to 25 players, and we thought we'd be in and out. Coach put everything in perspective and that turned out pretty well."