Trib HSSN Baseball Player of the Week: Central Catholic’s Joe Olsavsky

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 | 11:07 PM


Joe Olsavsky

School: Central Catholic

Class: Junior

Central Catholic is the reigning Section 1 baseball champ after claiming the title last spring by three games over Pine-Richland and Butler.

The Vikings were the top seed in 2018 WPIAL Class 6A playoffs and reached the semifinals before falling to eventual champion Canon-McMillan.

There were questions marks coming into this season with the Vikings lineup hit hard by graduation. But thanks to the hot start for Joe Olsavsky, Central Catholic is ready to defend with section play starting Wednesday.

After winning three of four games in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on opening weekend, last week Central Catholic had a pair of nonsection tilts against 6A semifinalists from a year ago: defending champion Canon-McMillan and the No. 2 seed in last year’s playoffs, Hempfield.

Olsavsky was 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored Wednesday against the Big Macs, then was 3 for 4 with two runs scored in the Vikings win over the Spartans on Friday.

“The key to Joe’s early success at the plate this season is in each at-bat, he has an approach and gameplan going to the plate,” Central Catholic coach Pat Walsh said.

The junior not only has shined at the plate but also in the field and on the hill.

“Joe is an excellent defensive player,” Walsh said. “He is a natural shortstop who plays second base for us.”

In both victories, Olsavsky pitched a scoreless seventh inning to pick up the save. He might continue to fill that role, Walsh said.

“His role as a pitcher will be in all three areas — as a starter, middle guy and closer. We like Joe as a pitcher and will use him how the games and schedule dictates.”

His role as increased this spring after not getting a lot of opportunities on a senior-heavy team last spring, and Walsh said Olsavsky has what it takes to be a leader even though he is an underclassman.

“We expected Joe to be one of our leaders on the field. Joe did not get a big chance on varsity last year, but we knew he was a very good player.”

So what has Olsavsky done to improve and get off to such a big start?

“The things that improved about Joe’s game is he got bigger and stronger,” Walsh said. “Joe works hard in the offseason and works hard at every practice. Grind plus talent is a good combination.”

The Vikings have nonsection games against Chartiers Valley and North Hills before facing North Allegheny in the Section 1-6A opener Apr. 8.

“The 2019 version of our team is young and talented,” Walsh said. “We play in such a difficult section. Our goals are to get better and somehow win enough games to qualify for playoffs.”

Honorable mention

Cory Greiner, Seneca Valley

Greiner had a hand in all three of Seneca Valley’s nonsection wins over North Hills, Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon last week. The senior had two hits and four RBIs in an 10-0 whitewash of the Indians. The next day, Greiner took the hill and threw a shutout with five strikeouts and added two hits in an 11-0 victory over the Black Hawks. Then, 24 hours later, he had three hits including a double as the Raiders concluded their trifecta with a 7-5 come-from-behind triumph on the road against the Blue Devils.

Tony Tamilia, Moon

Tamilia’s week featured two games, two wins, two big days at the plate and one solid performance on the hill. In an 8-1 win over Chartiers Valley on Wednesday, Tamilia was 2 for 3 with a double, triple and three RBIs. Then Friday against rival Montour, Tamilia was 3 for 3 with two RBIs, two runs, a double and two stolen bases. He pitched four innings without allowing an earned run, gave up one hit and struck out seven in the 15-4 win.

Mason Brooks, Keystone Oaks

It was a mixed opening week for Keystone Oaks under new coach Nick Kamberis. But while the Golden Eagles earned a split decision in their first two games, it was an unqualified success for Brooks. In a 5-0 loss to West Allegheny, Brooks went 3 for 3 with a triple. The next day in another nonsection game against Carlynton, Brooks took the mound and blanked the Cougars, 11-0, in 5 innings.

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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