Senior Spotlight: West Allegheny baseball standout grew to love high school game

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Friday, May 8, 2020 | 8:00 AM


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

For the past few years, the West Allegheny baseball team has been on the brink of capturing championships.

The Indians fell short in 2017-18 when they placed third in the WPIAL tournament and lost to eventual state champion Marple Newtown in the PIAA semifinals. A year later, they suffered a disappointing quarterfinal upset against Mars in the WPIAL tournament.

Now, seniors like Cameron Pankyo-Morris are just upset that they won’t get one more shot to achieve their ultimate goal.

“We were more than excited to come back with the talent that we had and everyone we were able to pull together this season,” Pankyo-Morris said. “Just to be shut down like that, it definitely hurt. Our first scrimmage, when we were able to get out on the field, I’ve never seen the team as excited as we were to get out there, especially after coming up short the past few years.”

After all, the Indians were loaded with talent, from Pankyo-Morris, who’s headed to play baseball at Slippery Rock, to Austin Hendrick, who’s committed to play baseball at Mississippi State but could also be a first-round draft pick during this year’s MLB draft.

Because of the talent they had and the friendships that he’d developed, Pankyo-Morris was hoping for one more run with the teammates he had become so close with.

“At first I was enjoying travel ball more than high school ball,” Pankyo-Morris said. “But as years went on and we built the friendships we have today, there was nothing like playing baseball with a high school team like that. There are no friendships like that.”

What’s your favorite moment playing baseball for West Allegheny?

I would have to say when we were making our state run in 2018 and we played Redland in the quarterfinals. I didn’t even play in the game but just being a part of it was incredible. I’ve never seen everyone smile so much. We were thinking we had to beat them, but we were definitely the underdogs, so to come out on top, it was just awesome. It was probably one of the greatest moments of my high school career.

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

I’d have to say Justin Verlander.

What’s the best part of your game?

I would have to just say knowing the game, with making smart decisions and I like to keep track of the pitcher’s rhythm when I’m on base, which helps with stealing bases. So just knowing every part of the game.

What’s a day during quarantine look like?

I’ll work from about 7 ‘til 3 or 4. Then I’ll come home and work out with my buddy Mason Timko, then we’ll throw in our backyard for a little bit too. We do that about three or four times a week.

Have you picked up any new hobbies?

I’ve actually been fishing a lot more than I ever have.

What’s your favorite sports memory as a fan?

I have to say the Pirates wild card game in 2013.

Why’d you choose to go to college at Slippery Rock?

I really liked the campus and the coach. We bonded really well, not that me and other college coaches didn’t bond well, but I’ve just seen how they’ve been in the past and they are a young team. So hopefully we can just get better throughout my time there.

What will your major be?

Finance

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

Jeff Bezos

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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