Senior Spotlight: Laurel’s Will Shaffer capitalized on 2019 playoff run

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020 | 9:54 PM


Editor’s note: Trib HSSN is spotlighting WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

When the Laurel Spartans took on the No. 1 seeded Shenango Wildcats in last year’s WPIAL Class 2A playoffs, they had nothing to lose.

They were a young team with no seniors, and they had already lost to the Wildcats twice during the regular season.

“We just went in there and thought, ‘They are the one seed. They have everything to lose and we have absolutely nothing to lose,’” senior Will Shaffer said. “’If we lose, people are going to expect it. If we win, people will think we are the best team ever.’”

In one of the biggest games of his career, Shaffer stepped onto the mound for the Spartans and delivered a performance that he’ll never forget. He threw five innings, tallied six strikeouts and only allowed two runs on three hits as the Spartans upset Shenango, 4-2, to advance to the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals.

“The adrenaline rush was insane,” Shaffer said. “The stadium was full because it was at Pullman Park (in Butler), so everyone was there. It was a night game. It was just the perfect setting.”

Although the Spartans lost to Seton LaSalle in the WPIAL semifinals, Shaffer reaped the rewards of making a run to the state playoffs.

After tearing his ACL during football season, Shaffer missed out on a lot of recruiting opportunities. But the coaches from his eventual college choice, Youngstown State, made a trip to Mt. Aloysius College to see him pitch in the first round of the state playoffs and Shaffer had a day.

“I threw like seven (innings) that game and two weeks later, they offered me,” Shaffer said. “They were my first offer, so I was pretty ecstatic. It was pretty awesome.”

That pitching performance was the last of his high school career, but it capped off a year where he went 5-2 on the mound with a 2.36 ERA in 32⅔ innings pitched. He also hit for a .307 batting average.

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

It’d have to be beating Shenango in the playoff game.

Who is the one hitter you want to face?

Pitching to Mike Trout would probably be pretty cool.

If you could change positions, where would you play?

I’d like to be a shortstop. That’d be cool.

Have you picked up any new hobbies during the pandemic?

I started InstaCart shopping.

What’s the first thing you did when everything started to open back up?

Get back on the baseball field.

What’s your favorite sports memory?

I was at the Pirates game (2013 wild card) where they started chanting Cueto and he dropped the ball. So definitely that game.

What made you want to commit to Youngstown State?

I liked the coaches. They are young. They are fun. The facilities over there were awesome and the people I train with, Terry Grossetti, he’s the strength coach at YSU, so that helped too.

What will you major in?

Exercise science with the plans to go to physician assistant school afterwards.

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

Clayton Kershaw

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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