Last year was a landmark one for some local high school baseball teams.
South Fayette finished an emotional run for head coach Kenny Morgan by winning its first WPIAL championship in 19 years.
Canon-McMillan won its first WPIAL title in school history.
Some of those runs continued throughout the state tournament as Ringgold and Canon-McMillan each won PIAA championships, the first time two local teams accomplished that feat in the same year.
It almost seems like yesterday those teams were raising the championship trophies at Penn State University’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Now, we are one day away from start of the 2019 season. Here are five players to watch when many most teams begin play Friday.
1. Chase Angotti, Ringgold — Angotti will look to build on an impressive junior year. He had six doubles en route to hitting .286 with 13 RBI and 22 runs. Angotti’s most impressive numbers were on the mound for the Rams as he was part of a one-two punch with since-graduated Ryan Varley. Angotti went 6-1 with a 1.82 ERA. He had 49 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. Seniors Bobby Boyer, who hit .435, and Koby Bubash, who hit .427, also return for the Rams.
2. Cam Walker, Canon-McMillan — The diminutive smooth-fielding shortstop proved to be a big problem for opponents one season ago. Walker, a Saint Joseph’s recruit, hit .317 with four doubles, one triple and 13 RBI as a junior. Hitting out of the No. 2 spot, he drew 11 walks and struck out only six times. Walker’s strongest asset is his ability in the field. He is a sure-handed infielder who will try to guide Canon-McMillan back to another WPIAL and state championship with fellow seniors Cam Weston and Brandan Rea.
3. Richie Dell, South Fayette — The Kent State recruit picked up his offense as last year progressed, finishing with a .339 batting average, 19 RBI and a pair of triples and home runs. Dell also scored 17 runs. Several top hitters return for South Fayette, including Ryan Kokoski (.472), Mitch Dunay (.384), Eli Snider (.375) and Joey Alcorn (.370). Dell, the ace of South Fayette’s pitching staff, went 6-2 with a 1.94 ERA in 43 1/3 innings. Changing velocity’s with multiple pitches, Dell had 64 strikeouts and allowed only 12 earned runs as a junior.
4. Josh Hoffman, Belle Vernon — Relied upon in the infield for the Leopards, Hoffman did a lot of his damage with the bat last season. Consistently coming through in big moments, Hoffman finished his junior season with a .397 average, 21 RBI and 19 runs. Hoffman’s speed led to seven doubles, two triples and 10 steals. He had more home runs (4) than strikeouts (3) in 18 games last season.
5. Jake Broadwater, Jefferson-Morgan — After J-M lost a large senior class two years ago, Broadwater led a young Rockets team last season at the plate and on the mound. He hit .425, scored 13 runs and had 11 RBI. He had a 4-2 pitching record with a 3.97 ERA and 36 strikeouts. Seniors who return with Broadwater are Devin Stoneking and Justin Maddich, but the Rockets have several underclassmen who could take a big step in 2019.