Penn-Trafford baseball stays hungry amid uncertainty

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | 8:51 PM


When Penn-Trafford baseball players and coaches left practice Friday — their final practice as a group until March 30 at the earliest and maybe their last workout together ever — players were given baseballs to take home.

The season hadn’t even begun and the team already was cleaning out its lockers. But there was an unspoken caveat.

“If I know them, they will stay hungry practicing somewhere,” Warriors coach Dan Miller said.

Penn-Trafford hopes the disorder around the country and state will subside and sports can return to the way everyone remembers them.

If the Warriors do take the field, Miller expects to manage a unique group.

“We are a team of misfits,” Miller said. “I say that respectfully. Like the land of misfit toys in the animated Christmas program.”

Why does Miller use that description? Because it seemed to fit before Gov. Tom Wolf’s blanket mandate came down to close public schools, which also meant shutting down spring sports practices and gatherings for two weeks.

“All of our games are on the road, our field is under construction, our practice space is limited to indoors, a football field or hitting center the size of a closet, so we feel lost. But we will embrace that and hopefully become stronger together as one.”

With artificial turf being installed in the infield at its home park, a project that was delayed due to poor weather and drainage issues, the Warriors had planned to schedule some “home” games to be played at Seton Hill, something they did several times last year when the weather did not cooperate.

Miller hopes Penn-Trafford took on another label after what it accomplished last season: contender.

The Warriors (18-5) reached the WPIAL Class 6A championship game before falling to Pine-Richland.

“I point to the Norwin team of 2016 that had no field and inferior talent from the previous season, but guys stepped up,” Miller said. “I like our grit. Our make-up this year is a talented senior group but lacking game experience. We have roster of skilled players who will need time to adjust.”

With an abundance of senior talent gone, Miller hopes chemistry can form quickly.

Returning starters include senior first baseman Giovani Scott, senior Anthony Sherwin, a Bucknell recruit who will move to shortstop, and senior outfielder Bobby Lane, a Cincinnati commit.

“I think we’ll be a very solid team and be competitive in all of our games,” Lane said. “We don’t have a lot of varsity experience but once we get a couple games in, I think we’ll be fine. We have a lot of good pitching this year and I think that will be our main strength.”

Miller said the team will rely on pitching depth. The late Maclean Maund was the ace last year and had a lot to do with the team’s postseason run. Maund, who was set to be a freshman pitcher for Seton Hill this spring, died in January in a car accident.

Maund helped the Warriors win their first section title since 2007 and make noise in the postseason.

“The perception now, I would like to think, is that we have arrived,” Miller said, “and we can consistently be mentioned as a top program in the WPIAL.”

Pitchers include seniors Hayden Ford, Zach Kelly, Cam DePalma, Michael Chronowski, Scott and Tyler Hoover — a nice mix of right- and left-handers.

Miller still is looking to fill spots at catcher, the middle infield and in the outfield.

“Most of our guys did not log many innings or at-bats last season because of the core group that graduated,” Miller said. “We’re blessed to have talent, but experience is the key. Those that have been around the program should know what it takes to win. If not, shame on them. We have laid a foundation for winning and to win you have to work. No one will hand us anything.”

The players have their fingers crossed that there will be a season.

“It’s been tough to sit out, especially since it’s senior year,” Lane said. “Hopefully, we still get at least some of our season back because this is the last time I’ll ever get to play with my high school friends.”

 

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

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