Penn-Trafford baseball has no varsity experience returning

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 | 7:15 PM

When Penn-Trafford baseball coach Dan Miller talked in the offseason about his team being young and inexperienced, he wasn’t kidding.

Penn-Trafford has one player returning that was on the varsity team in 2019 when the Warriors (18-5) played for the WPIAL Class 6A title and played in the PIAA playoffs. Penn-Trafford fell to Pine-Richland in the finals and then lost to Wilson (West Lawn) in the state playoffs.

The 2020 season might have even been better for the Warriors until the coronavirus and spring sports shutdown occurred.

Penn-Trafford graduated 18 players from last year’s squad. Only senior Tyler Hoover is returning, and he saw no varsity playing time.

Still, Miller is optimistic.

After some idle time because of covid-19 protocols, the Warriors were scheduled to open the season Wednesday against Hempfield.

“My fear is the virus will go backwards,” Miller said. “It’s been a great spring so far and we’ve been fortunate to get outside. It’s given us an opportunity to teach and work on things we’re installing.”

Miller learned a lot about his squad in their two scrimmages against Mt. Pleasant and Butler.

“We’re young,” Miller said. “A lot of these players are making the jump from junior high to varsity. It’s important we do things a certain way and develop the players. The Pirates are rebuilding. Hopefully we’re just retooling.”

Miller will be counting on three left-handed senior pitchers to carry the load on the hill: Hoover, Joe MacIntosh and Trevor Wilson.

When Hoover isn’t on the mound, he’ll be at first base.

The other seniors Miller expects good things from are shortstop Riley Bellan, catcher Tommy Kusinsky and outfielder Zach Hoffman, who is switching from the infield.

“We were able to play fall ball, and a lot of players opened my eyes,” Miller said. “There is a lot of potential. We have a lot of young talent. We have four or five sophomores that may start.”

Heading the bunch is catcher Jakob Haynes, who Miller says falls in the tradition of good catchers he’s coached since he began in 2015 starting with Scott Koscho (Naval Academy) followed by Andrew Giesey (Thiel), Josh Spiegel (Penn State) and Cade Patterson (Cal, Pa.).

“We’re confident that Jakob can handle the position,” Miller said. “He has all the tools.”

The other sophomores expected to start include middle infielder/pitcher Dylan Grabowski, super utility player Jake Otto and third baseman Peyton Bigler.

Miller said the starting lineup has yet to be decided as the team prepares for life in Class 5A. The Warriors played in Section 2-6A previously.

Now they will compete against Franklin Regional, Latrobe, Kiski Area, Gateway and McKeesport in Section 1-5A.

“It’s going to be challenging,” Miller said. “Franklin Regional is always good, Latrobe is back in Class 5A where it won a state title in 2017, Gateway is improved and Kiski Area and McKeesport are solid.

“I also like the new schedule of playing back-to-back days. It will make every game competitive.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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