Hempfield East Legion looking to build on historic season

Monday, June 17, 2024 | 2:02 PM

Hempfield East comes into the Westmoreland County American Legion baseball season looking to continue its winning ways after a tremendous finish in last year’s playoffs.

It was able to escape multiple jams en route to a first-round series win against Young Township.

Beating Young Township gave Hempfield East the first playoff series win in its history, which coach Jason Willis said is something to build on for this season.

However, that was all the success Willis’ team saw, as it fell to No. 1 seed Bushy Run the next week in the semifinals.

It was an encouraging year nonetheless, as Willis said the team had five wins in 2022 and went 16-5 last season.

Willis is looking for more this season.

“My main goal is for our team to go out this year and to make regionals later this summer,” he said.

Hempfield East is proving tough to beat: Through five games, the team has a 4-1 record.

Willis thinks the league will be very difficult this season, especially with two teams that have yet to start play because of Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional’s runs in the WPIAL playoffs.

“Bushy Run and Murrysville will be tough to beat,” Willis said.

Bushy Run returns one of the more complete teams.

Willis also mentioned Burrell as a tough competitor. The Bucs lost in the PIAA playoffs to close their varsity season, and many who were on that state playoff team returned to play Legion ball.

Hempfield East will have to rely on its a few key players, especially considering it was only able to bring back half its team from last year, Willis said.

Some of those integral players include pitcher and center fielder Conner Burkey, left fielder Dom Rosensteel and first baseman/pitcher Grayson Willis.

Only three players on this year’s team graduated high school in 2024, all three from Hempfield.

Willis’ team also includes members from Greensburg Salem and Greensburg Central Catholic.

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