Senior Spotlight: Mt. Pleasant’s Shrum found sanctuary on mound

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Friday, May 29, 2020 | 12:37 PM


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

During his high school career, Mt. Pleasant senior Joe Shrum always found an extra sense of confidence when he stepped on the mound for the Vikings.

“I found it like a sanctuary, almost,” Shrum said.

In his final two years on the varsity team, Shrum produced ERAs of 1.96 and 1.43 while throwing 591/3 innings and striking out 50.

He was the guy the Vikings leaned on in big games. As a sophomore against Greensburg Salem, Shrum tossed eight innings of three-hit ball while striking out seven. While the Vikings lost 1-0 in extra innings against a playoff contender, it gave them the confidence they needed to make a playoff run.

“That loss really propelled us forward through that season,” Shrum said. “We had a really young team, and that showed us if Greensburg Salem is a playoff team there’s no reason we can’t go out and compete at that level.”

Then, as a junior last year, Shrum stepped onto the mound when the Vikings played Ringgold, the defending PIAA champion, in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. Shrum threw five scoreless innings, and the Vikings won 8-0.

“Yeah, we were the lower seed and they were one of the top seeds, but there wasn’t a single moment where we thought we were going to go in and lose that game,” Shrum said.

Eventually, that confidence on the mound transferred to the batter’s box for Shrum. During his junior year, he led the Vikings with a .441 batting average, 13 RBIs and 15 hits as they went 9-8 and secured a third straight playoff appearance.

Shrum thought this season was going to be their year to reach the WPIAL title game for the second time since 2017.

“We believed in our lineup from both an offensive and defensive perspective,” Shrum said. “It was probably one of our best set up seasons, which made it that much more difficult that we weren’t going to get to play.”

What’s your favorite memory while playing baseball for Mt. Pleasant?

We’ve been part of so many cool spots and stories so it’s hard to break down, but I would say the first round of playoffs last year when we beat Ringgold, 8-0. We were definitely picked to lose that game, but I threw five scoreless and we beat them at Seton Hill.

Who is the one hitter you’d want to face?

I would love to pitch against Mike Trout, just to see how far he would hit it.

If you could change positions where would you play?

Probably catcher. It’s a position I’ve never played, but I’ve always admired and stood up for my catchers. They definitely go through a lot back there.

What’s a day during quarantine look like?

I normally wake up around 4 a.m. and turkey hunt. It’s one of my biggest passions off the baseball field. Then I’ll come back, eat breakfast and do schoolwork, and I’ll have a workout session in the afternoon.

Have you picked up any new hobbies?

A couple of my friends got me into fishing, which was something I’ve never gotten into before. But at this point I’ve been trying to find stuff to do.

What’s your favorite sports memory as a fan?

Watching my friend Jacob Johnson during basketball season. They won against Derry in overtime, and he scored his 1,000th point. That was one of the coolest things to be a part of as a fan.

What made you want to choose Saint Vincent College?

It was a cross between meeting coach (Mick) Janosko, he reminded me a lot of (Mt. Pleasant) coach (Chris) Firmstone, and their academic program, they are definitely high in their (criminology) department.

Do you know what your major will be?

Criminal law and society. My goal is to get into federal law enforcement.

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

Max Scherzer.

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

(Former Navy Seal) Marcus Lutrell.

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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