Sopata a consistent force for Baldwin baseball

Friday, May 17, 2019 | 8:03 PM

Andy Sopata proved to be Mr. Consistent for the Baldwin baseball program.

After hitting .393 last season, the senior center fielder posted a .396 batting average this spring.

Sopata led the Highlanders in batting average, at-bats (53), runs (17), hits (21), doubles (six), stolen bases (13), on-base percentage (.459) and slugging percentage (.603).

“Playing at Baldwin for the past three years has really changed my mindset about the game, helping me become a better leader and a better teammate,” Sopata, a three-year letterman, said. “When you’re looked at as a team that doesn’t have a lot of wins to its name, you don’t get as much credit as you should. Having a lot of those ‘rough times’ during the season when something doesn’t go your way or when you lose the game to get into the playoffs, it builds a lot of character and mental strength that can help at the next level.”

Prior to the season, Baldwin coach Rocky Plassio offered high praise for Sopata, who was a first-team all-section selection as a junior.

“In my opinion, Andy is quite possibly the most underrated and underappreciated player in the entire section,” said Plassio, who has coached the Highlanders for three years. “He is an outstanding player who deserves much more recognition from college coaches than he has been given. … He’s a great kid who simply knows how to play the game the right way, in any situation.”

Senior IF/OF Aaron Exler and junior first baseman Kieran Schmidt led the Highlanders in RBIs with 10 apiece. Nick Dolan hit two home runs.

Dolan, a junior pitcher/shortstop, was 2-2, striking out a team-high 20 batters in 2123 innings. He issued 13 walks and allowed 21 hits.

Dolan, like Sopata, was an all-section selection in 2018. He hit .370 as a junior.

“I feel the team started out strong, but as the (2019) season went on, it was hard to capitalize on the section wins,” Dolan said. “We did beat last year’s (WPIAL) champ, Canon-Mac, two times. That felt amazing.”

As a pitcher, Sopata finished 0-2 but had three saves and had a 2.33 ERA. In 18 innings, he struck out 13, surrendered 19 hits and six earned runs and walked just two batters.

Sopata and Dolan paced the Highlanders’ pitching staff in appearances with nine and eight, respectively.

Baldwin freshman Jonathan Rauch (P/OF) and senior Harry DePetro both were 2-2 this season. Each pitched 2423 innings and allowed 30 runs apiece.

DePetro had a 2.55 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 17 walks. He gave up nine earned runs. The left-handed Rauch had a 3.41 ERA with five strikeouts and nine walks with 12 earned runs.

Baldwin finished with the same section record as a year ago with a 4-8 mark.

The Highlanders ended up 7-9 overall and finished sixth in Section 3-6A, behind Bethel Park, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon and Canon-McMillan.

“This season, I feel we didn’t compete at our best level,” Sopata said. “We could have made a run for the playoffs, but we just didn’t figure things out quick enough. Beating Canon-Mac twice was definitely a highlight.

“My main goal was to make the playoffs, so it wasn’t exactly the season I had in mind before high school ball just comes to an end.”

Sopata, who is an Eagle Scout, is planning to continue his baseball career at either Seton Hill or Cal (Pa.).

Dolan and his teammates hope to have a stronger playoff push in 2020.

“Our early expectations would be to come out in the beginning of the year with a few section wins under the belt,” Dolan said, “and continue that throughout the rest of the season with timely hitting.”


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