Senior Spotlight: Laurel Highlands second baseman won’t soon forget run to WPIAL finals

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020 | 6:35 PM


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

Just like the Laurel Highlands basketball team this past December, the baseball team was on the verge of a WPIAL championship last May.

After going 11-6 overall and 7-5 in section play, the Mustangs got hot at just the right time. With wins over Kiski Area, Hampton and Franklin Regional, they punched their ticket to the WPIAL Class 5A championship.

Their run was stopped short by Shaler, and Santino Marra said that loss left the Mustangs seniors extra motivated for their final season.

“We’ve been working since we were freshman for this, senior year, big year,” Marra said. “After we made our playoff run last year, we were really looking forward to it this year and it just kind of took a big blow to us.”

Marra was one of the standouts last year for the Mustangs, hitting for a .386 average with 27 hits and 10 RBIs. He was just one of several players coming back from last year’s team, and the Mustangs second basemen said he and the rest of the players were excited to come back and make another run at a WPIAL championship.

“We had about 8-10 guys that have been playing together since we were like 10 years old and we went all the way up through middle school and high school,” Marra said. “We’ve been together for a long time.”

The coronavirus pandemic brought an end to the Mustangs’ hopes, but Marra is still excited to be chasing his dream of playing at the collegiate level. Marra is committed to play at Cal (Pa.) and during his quarantine, he’s been sticking to a routine of staying ready for college baseball.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I started playing baseball because you always dream of playing high school and travel ball and stuff,” Marra said. “But if you can play college baseball, that means it’s something special.”

What’s your favorite memory while playing baseball for Laurel Highlands?

It would probably be our playoff run last year because our whole town, our whole community was behind us. All the teachers were behind us, and as we kept winning games, the hype kept getting bigger and bigger. When we got to the championship game, the whole school was excited.

Who is the one pitcher you want to face?

Clayton Kershaw. He’s been really good over the years and he’s a beast out there.

If you could change positions, where would you play?

I’d probably say center field. It’s fun. I love catching fly balls.

What’s a day during quarantine look like?

I work from 10-3, then when I get home, I eat something, get a workout in, then kind of just hang out for the rest of the night.

Have you picked up any new hobbies?

I’ve actually been fishing and mountain biking a lot. I haven’t had much time to do that since baseball, but now it’s gone so I’ve been doing that a lot.

What’s your favorite sports memory?

The 2013 Pirates wild card game.

If you could switch places with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Mike Trout

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

Probably my dad.

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

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