Kegerreis swinging hot bat as Franklin Regional heads into WPIAL baseball final

Monday, May 31, 2021 | 3:55 PM

Louie Kegerreis is seeing the baseball better than he has all year, but he isn’t just laser-focused on incoming pitches.

The Franklin Regional senior wants to do his part to win a championship.

His relentless preparation and team-first mentality is a pleasant bonus to Panthers coach Bobby Saddler, who could not be more impressed by what Kegerreis has been doing at the plate.

The slugger’s stats are impressive, but a great big zero might upstage all of the gaudy numbers. Kegerreis has not struck out all season (61 at-bats).

“No moment is too big for Louie,” Saddler said. “He has a humble sense of confidence, and he can rise to meet any situation.”

Kegerreis and the top-seeded Panthers (18-1) will take on No. 2 Bethel Park (18-3) in the WPIAL Class 5A championship at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Wild Things Park in Washington. The Black Hawks will try to slow Kegerreis’ roll.

The shortstop has been on absolute tear in the playoffs. He is 10 for 11 with a pair of triples and six RBIs.

“To start the season, you try to get your cues down, your timing on your swing,” Kegerreis said. “Right before the playoffs started, everything started to click, and my confidence kept going up.”

His surge began in the first round when Franklin Regional pounded out 14 hits in a 14-3 win over 16-seed Thomas Jefferson. Kegerreis went 5 for 5 with a triple, home run and four RBIs.

When the Panthers defeated No. 8 Mars, 8-5, in the quarterfinals, Kegerreis went 2 for 2 with a triple.

He had three hits in four at-bats, with a double and two RBIs, in a 9-1 win over Peters Township in the semifinals. That win propelled the Panthers into the the finals for the first time since 2001.

“He is 10 for 11,” Saddler said. “The one (out) was lined to the shortstop (against Peters Township), and he had to make a tough play. Louie is one of the best hitters to come through our program.”

The impetus behind Kegerreis’ work ethic lies in his recovery from a hip injury two years ago. He played through the pain for more than a year before he had to shut it down. It cost him an entire summer of baseball but sharpened his focus and desire to play again.

Now, baseball is a daily grind that he thrives on.

“For me, its school, baseball, lift and eat,” Kegerreis said. “When I get time, I relax, then I go and work out again. No time for a girlfriend. You have to work on yourself so you can perform at your best to make the team better.”

Kegerreis is a tough out in a lineup full of them. He bats second for the Panthers, who rely on crisp defense and timely hittin but have been heavy-handed with offense in the playoffs with 31 runs on 30 hits.

“This is a great group, some elite guys,” Saddler said. “That doesn’t come along too often. But nobody has had to do too much. Nobody feels the weight to have to carry the team. They’ve had each other’s backs.”

For the season, Kegerreis is hitting .557 (34 for 61) with seven doubles, five triples, three homers and 24 RBIs. He has a team-high 27 runs scored.

“We lift together, and Louie is always working,” senior pitcher and outfielder Luke Treloar said. “He is so strong and has so much power.”

Kegerreis said he teases his brother, Tommy, a baseball standout at Westmoreland County Community College, about making the finals, something Tommy was not able to do when he played for the Panthers.

“I make him jealous, and he gets mad,” Louie said with smile that peeked though his face mask. “I get the occasional punch for it.”

Louis Kegerreis plans to play college baseball at the highest level. To make that happen, he plans to take a gap year while college rosters return to form. The time will allow him to keep improving.

“He could play college ball right now,” Saddler said. “He has schools interested in him. But he wants to play big-time D-I baseball. He has all the tools to do that.”

Kegerreis will be a ’22 prospect when he gets to a college program.

Franklin Regional coaches and players still talk about the sting of a 4-1 loss to Laurel Highlands in the WPIAL semifinals.

“If there is one I’d like to have back, it’s that one,” Saddler said.

That means the Panthers are even more motivated to bring home a title.

“It doesn’t surprise me we are here,” Kegerreis said. “Knowing our capabilities, we knew we had the ability to get this far. Everything is falling into place for us. We have to stay focused and do our thing. We have to stay within ourselves.”

Treloar, one of two standout pitchers along with senior Brian Pirone, said the Panthers have grown into a closer group, even after losing the 2020 season to the pandemic.

“We didn’t all know each other in the beginning,” he said. “But we took the time to get to know each other and we all hung out and bonded more.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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