Mt. Pleasant’s multi-sport seniors bring power, athleticism to diamond

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Monday, March 29, 2021 | 5:53 PM


Mt. Pleasant’s six-man senior baseball class will likely not be sending anyone to play at the college level. But that doesn’t mean the Vikings will lack talent specific to the sport.

In fact, it could be quite the opposite. This group is strong and athletic and plays multiple sports.

It’s simply time to flip the baseball switch again in Viking Country.

“We should be extremely sound,” senior 6-foot-5, 220-pound outfielder/pitcher Jonas King said. “We’re all kids who have played together for a long time. We have that baseball chemistry.”

King will play football at Mercyhurst, while teammate and first baseman Pete Billey (6-3, 230) is headed to Seton Hill for football. They could butt heads one day in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

The other seniors are catcher Asher O’Connor (6-0, 170), second baseman Steve Brown, outfielder Jared Yester and pitcher/third baseman John Wagner.

Mt. Pleasant was primed for a strong 2020 run, but the coronavirus pandemic erased the season and immediately thrust this year’s seniors into a greater roles.

“We’re going to be able to count on our senior leadership,” coach Chris Firmstone said. “All of them are very motivated to go. It’s their last hurrah. They want to make sure they play as a team and not as individuals.

“They all have started at some points in their careers. We need them to lead and carry this team.”

The athleticism could lead to power for the Vikings. Seniors posed for a photo during a recent practice and a few of them wore sleeveless shirts.

“It’s time for the gun show,” Firmstone said with a laugh.

King, Billey, Yester and junior Aaron Alakson are the potential sluggers — among others.

“We have some kids who will drive it to the fence and some over it,” Firmstone said. “But I don’t want them thinking about (hitting home runs). I want them to do what they have to do to get on base and score runs.”

Billey belted a grand slam in a 5-2 win over Uniontown to open the season.

Pitching is one big question mark as the season begins.

“We’ll have a number of guys come in to pitch at some point in time,” Firmstone said. “We’re still evaluating some things. That is part of how unique this year is going to be.”

Rege Sofranko, a junior, is expected to be in the rotation. Other juniors looking to make an impact include Jeremy Kitz, Mike Noah and Cody Surma.

The Vikings were in the WPIAL Class 3A championship in 2017 and nearly beat Blackhawk in the 4A quarterfinals in ‘19.

This year, the environment changes as they drop back into 3A and join Deer Lakes, Derry, East Allegheny, Ligonier Valley and Valley in Section 3.

“The thing is, everyone lost a whole year,” Firmstone said. “Everybody is behind. I think it’s going to be a crapshoot (in the section). It’s going to come down to the last game to see who gets the (final playoff spots). It is going to be a scrappy section.”

The Vikings are set to play Yough on Tuesday and travel to Wild Things Park in Washington to play McGuffey on Wednesday.

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

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