Senior Spotlight: Hopewell pitcher aimed for return to WPIAL championship game

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020 | 11:25 AM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years have been cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Heading into his senior season, Hopewell pitcher Jake McGovern felt like this was the year for the Vikings.

“I can’t tell you the emotions I was feeling. I was so ready to go back to that championship game,” McGovern said. “I knew we were going back. This was our year.”

Just a year ago, the Vikings made a trip to the WPIAL Class 3A championship game but lost to Steel Valley, 5-4, in an eight-inning thriller. The Vikings then advanced to the quarterfinals of the PIAA tournament but lost to eventual champion Mount Union.

It was a season in which McGovern put together his best stat line to date. At the plate, the 5-foot-11 Gulf Coast State College commit hit .377 while driving in a team-high 27 runs in 69 at-bats. Although McGovern was solid at the plate, he led his team by excelling on the mound.

As the Vikings ace, he went 8-1 and compiled a 1.46 ERA over 57⅔ innings while throwing five complete games and three shutouts.

After a season like last and a slew of seniors returning, matched with a few talented underclassmen, the Vikings were excited to get after it before the coronavirus pandemic ended their hopes.

“We had at least six or seven seniors, and we were just putting in work,” McGovern said. “I mean I had basketball and I was trying to come to work out, but after that was done, we just started grinding. We were excited.”

Even though his senior season was canceled, McGovern is looking forward to his future down south in Florida. He hasn’t been able to get on a mound, or hit, because of everything going on, but he said he’s been doing a lot of band work and trying to stay in shape.

“They’ve closed everything off so we can’t even get to the field, and it’s been raining like crazy so I can’t even step outside,” McGovern said. “But I’ve been doing a lot of band work inside just to try to keep it in shape.”

What’s your favorite moment playing baseball for Hopewell?

There’s a lot, but I’d probably say our section game at New Brighton last year. We were down a couple of runs, and we had two guys on in the fifth. I came up to the plate and hit a bomb over the big fence in right-center and we tied up the game. We ended up losing, but that was one of my favorite moments because everyone was so hyped.

With the game on the line, would you rather be on the mound or at the plate?

I’d probably say I’d have to be on the bump.

If you could face any hitter, who would it be?

JJ Wetherholt (Mars), Mike Trout, have to go against him, and Austin Hendrick (West Allegheny).

What’s your strikeout pitch?

Last year it was my curveball, but this year I was switching to my slider. But I’d probably have to say my curveball or my changeup.

What’s your favorite sports moment as a fan?

I’d probably have to say the 2018 playoff game between the Vikings and the Saints when Stefon Diggs caught the ball on the sideline and the defensive back missed the tackle and the Vikings won the game.

What made you want to commit to Gulf Coast State College?

I mean being down south, it doesn’t get any better than that. But my uncle, Ray Antonelli, went there and he was leading me in that direction. He said it could really help me out. So, I looked more into it and talked to the coaches and visited them, and it was really cool. It just felt like a family.

What will be your major?

Business.

If you could choose anyone to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be?

Conor McGregor.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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