New coach set to lead Fox Chapel baseball

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 | 5:36 PM

It was a smooth transition for new Fox Chapel baseball coach Jim Hastings.

A 1999 graduate of the school, Hastings is familiar with many of the players and families he will be working with after leading Springdale to the WPIAL playoffs last season.

“It's been nice coming back, knowing some of the kids and some of the families after also being around as a (assistant) football coach,” Hastings said.

“We also had a fall season, and we really haven't stopped. That was on the kids as they really wanted to keep working and keep practicing.”

The Foxes will be trying to improve on last year's record of 4-8 in Section 1-5A play, 5-15 overall.

Hastings expects a smooth transition from coaching in Class A to Class 5A.

“The numbers are different, for one,” Hastings said. “At Springdale, we'd have 15 kids, maybe 20 at times, but here we have 35 kids out this year. At Springdale, kids would play two or three sports and we'd get, maybe, eight kids for offseason workouts because they were playing other sports. Here, we were in the 18 to 25 range. That's the difference between small and larger schools.”

Fox Chapel will be heavy with upperclassmen this season but will have to compensate for the graduation of pitcher Nick McRandal, now at Mercyhurst.

Alex Miles returns as a pitcher and starting shortstop.

Miles is a submarine pitcher, something many high school batters are unaccustomed to facing.

“It's a different angle to see,” Miles said. “Last year, I was fairly successful and hope I can do even better this year.”

“Alex is about as good as it gets defensively at shortstop, and he's a good pitcher who throws a lot of strikes,” Hastings added.

“Other senior pitchers are Reed Bursic, Greg Humbert and junior Jonathan Simon, a lefty who throws around 80 to 85.”

Simon also will be utilized as a first baseman and outfielder, and Noah Marks, starting late after coming over from the basketball playoff team, is expected to be a factor.

Outfielder James Patterson is part of a junior-heavy class, and T.J. Johnston is an infielder, along with Ryan Wagner, who also could be a closer.

Among other expected contributors are Matt Jerpe and Adam Mattioli.

“We have a lot of competition, a lot of guys in the mix,” Hastings said. “We'll have up to 18 on the varsity team, so it'll be a matter of who's performing.”

Mitch Miles has good speed and outfield ability, along with catcher Alex McRandal, Nick's brother, who started as a freshman last year.

Bursic is eager to get going as the Foxes open their season March 23 at home against Peters Township. Fox Chapel has an advantage over many other schools since it has an artificial turf infield and fewer postponed games.

“It's amazing, we can play a lot more games than other teams,” Bursic said of his school's facility. “You can practice a lot more, and we can be more competitive.”

Added Hastings: “It's a huge advantage for us, getting outside and getting some repetition. If we have an away game where the field is unplayable, they can move the game here even though we might be the visiting team.”

To get back to the playoffs, Mars and Hampton are among the teams to beat in Section 1-5A.

George Guido is a freelance writer.


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