Senior Spotlight: Mt. Pleasant center fielder a ‘difference-maker’

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Thursday, May 14, 2020 | 12:45 PM


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

When she was about 8 years old, Sydney Kanuch was playing catch with her grandma.

Grandma had never done this before but saw no harm in a simple backyard exchange.

“It was her first time trying,” Kanuch said. “She wasn’t paying attention when I threw the ball, and it hit her in the face and broke her nose. Luckily, she was fine, but she never threw softball with me again.”

Even then, Kanuch had deceptive arm strength.

The center fielder from Mt. Pleasant, though, did not get to play catch with any of her teammates this season, either. Only in a few practices before coronavirus restrictions pulled the plug on spring sports in Pennsylvania.

(Talk about getting hit in the face).

Kanuch is just 5-foot-4 but plays big for the Vikings, who would have opened the season ranked No. 2 in WPIAL Class 4A behind defending champion Elizabeth Forward.

“She’s a difference-maker in center field and on the bases,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Brunson said.

The speedster hit .279 with 12 runs, three triples and a homer last season for the WPIAL runners-up who reached a No. 18 ranking nationally by MaxPreps.

Fans will recall her terrific, over-the-shoulder catch late in a 2-0 semifinal win over Thomas Jefferson at Seton Hill.

Kanuch looked comfortable in the Griffins’ outfield and rightly so: She will play her college softball at Seton Hill.

What personally has been the most challenging part of the covid-19 shutdown?

Missing out on all the “big senior year things,” especially the softball season because it meant the most to me.

What do you miss most about softball?

Being in the moment on the field, forgetting about everything, and just being able to go out and do what I love.

What will you remember most about Mt. Pleasant softball?

The bond that all of us had built together; it’s like a big family and I’ll never forget that.

Was this year’s team going to be pretty good?

I believe we definitely would have been good. There is tons of talent on that team. When we all work together, it feels like we’re unstoppable.

Do you have any interesting or quirky hobbies?

I like to bake, and walk my dogs.

Who inspires you most?

My family and friends have been such an inspiration to me. They make me want to strive for greatness and make them proud. I always want to do my best on that field to show my dad that all the years of him pushing me paid off. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my parents’ guidance and support.

Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter.

Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi.

Favorite TV show?

“All American.”

Favorite song?

“When it Rains it Pours” by Luke Combs.

Best sports movie?

“The Miracle Season.”

What did you like most about Seton Hill and where will you fit into the program?

I loved playing on Seton Hill’s field during the playoff games. The university is close enough to home, but also far enough away. I hope to help out the team in whatever way Coach (Jess) Strong needs me to.

Is this student-organized prom idea taking off? Will it happen?

It has definitely became more realistic than in the beginning. I think it will happen, just not right away.

What Mt. Pleasant softball game would you most like to have back?

The 2015 PIAA state championship game. I would love to feel the rush of playing in a game that important again. There’s nothing else like it, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime-experience.

What was your most memorable hit?

I had just gotten a new bat, and it was only used during warmups before the game against Indiana. It was my first at- bat, first pitch thrown to me, and I whacked it over the fence in right field. I’ve been in love with that bat ever since.

The new coaches brought in a weightlifting program. How much did that help the team and what was that like?

Personally, lifting has became a big part in my life. It has helped me and my teammates in so many ways and still continues to do so.

Who was the toughest pitcher you faced?

Bailey Parshall from Belle Vernon. I remember no one was able to hit off of her the first game we played again them.

What was your favorite class in high school?

Junior High gym class.

What sport do you wish you had tried?

Volleyball.

Best advice from coach Chris Brunson?

“No excuses about the weather. The other team has to play in it too.”

What’s the first thing you want to do when the stay-at-home order is lifted?

Hang out with my friends and spend time with my whole family.

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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