Fox Chapel baseball hopes offseason adjustments lead to section success

Saturday, March 18, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Dom Cassol enjoyed that the Fox Chapel baseball team took a different approach to training for the 2023 season. With an inexperienced group of pitchers returning, the Foxes wanted to make sure that they were able to help everyone grow together.

“We switched things up,” said Cassol, who is a senior pitcher. “We wanted to make sure things went more smoothly and get more reps. We found a way to incorporate things into smaller groups instead of larger groups. We didn’t stand around as much.”

Part of not standing around so much was important to Fox Chapel coach James Hastings. The Foxes, who were scheduled to open the season last Friday against Shaler, wanted to make sure they got more practice with live action.

“This year, we changed things up about how we play the game,” Hastings said. “Usually, we play six to eight games, but this year we played closer to 15 games. We wanted to get guys playing against live pitching. That helped us.”

Fox Chapel, which returns starters at catcher, second base and shortstop, lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team. The Foxes went 10-10 overall last season and finished 7-5 in section. Fox Chapel lost to West Allegheny, 1-0, in the first round in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs last season.

The Foxes are hoping that making changes in the offseason can help them compete in Section 1-5A, which includes Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn Hills, Penn-Trafford and Plum.

“I always tell the kids, there is a fine line when it comes to competing in the section,” Hastings said. “You need to throw strikes and get timely hits. They are baseball cliches, but it’s true.”

Zach Johnston will return at shortstop for Fox Chapel, while Bernie DeMotte will play second base. Jack Resek will be behind the plate for the Foxes.

Cassol said Fox Chapel has a nice mix of experience.

“We lost a lot of seniors, so patience will be the key for having so many new guys play,” Cassol said. “But I feel all of the guys stepping into new roles have shown they are ready to play varsity baseball.”

Fox Chapel will rely on sophomore Jeremy Haigh to throw a lot of innings. Haigh, a sophomore left-hander, threw about 20 innings last season, Hastings said.

“He’s consistent,” Hastings said. “He’s a big kid, who doesn’t throw hard, but he can throw three or four pitches for a strike.”

Franco Pistella, Brian Inglis, Christian Wilkinson and Cassol will also be counted on to throw some innings for the Foxes.

While Fox Chapel will take some time to jell, Cassol expects the team to be competitive for a playoff spot.

“I’m really excited for the season,” Cassol said. “We always want to try to win the section and make the playoffs. I think if we play our cards right, we could make a deep run.”


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