Trib HSSN Baseball Player of the Week: Elizabeth Forward’s Jacob Schmidt
By: Don Rebel
Sunday, April 14, 2019 | 8:24 PM
School: Elizabeth Forward
Elizabeth Forward began this decade with a bang on the diamond, reaching the district postseason in four of the first five years, highlighted by a WPIAL baseball championship in 2011.
However, the program has hit a bit of a wall, failing to reach the playoffs in four straight years with the low point being a 2-15 finish in 2016.
Now, Frank Champ’s team hopes to return to the limelight as it has raced to a 6-3 record overall and third place in the balanced Section 3-4A.
The six wins match the total from 2017 and surpass last year’s total of five.
“I think we are an older, more mature team playing with more confidence,” said Champ, now in Year 14 at EF. “Our hitting has been pretty good, which has carried us in many games this year. Our pitching has improved, and if we continue to improve defensively and in our base running, we can compete in our challenging section.”
Jacob Schmidt has played a big role in the turnaround. The junior is hitting .500 and is 2-0 on the mound with a 2.72 ERA.
“J.C. has been a good lead-off hitter for us this year,” Champ said. “By often getting on base, I feel he has helped to kick-start our offense and produce some big innings for us offensively.”
Last week in section wins over McKeesport and South Park, Schmidt was a combined 5 for 8 with a double, an RBI and four runs scored.
In a loss to section leader Thomas Jefferson on Saturday, Schmidt had four hits, a run scored and an RBI.
His success at the plate has been no surprise to Champ.
“He batted .404 for us last year as a sophomore, so our expectations are high for him at the plate this year,” Champ said. “He is also one of our team leaders, so we count on him in many facets of the game.”
On Wednesday against South Park, Schmidt pitched 6 scoreless innings, yielded three hits and struck out five in the Warriors’ 4-0 win over the Eagles.
“He gave us a huge effort pitching against South Park,” Champ said. “South Park is always one of the better teams in our section, so to keep them scoreless through six innings was huge.
“J.C.’s pitching has steadily improved all season. He has been spotting his pitches well and getting ahead of batters, which is very good to see.”
Champ feels Schmidt’s work on the mound has been the biggest lift in his game since his sophomore season.
“His biggest improvement this year has been his pitching. He is pitching with more confidence, and he has gotten stronger from last year, which has helped all of his game.”
Tom Colcombe, Peters Township
In section wins over Bethel Park, Brashear and Upper St. Clair, senior Tom Colcombe was 4 for 7 with four runs scored and four RBIs. But that was just part of the story. He pitched three scoreless innings and struck out three in a thrilling, 13-inning 2-1 win over Bethel Park. Four days later, he allowed one earned run in five innings with nine strikeouts in a 16-2 romp of Upper St. Clair that kept Peters in first place in Section 2-6A.
Eddie Morris, Armstrong
Armstrong is in the middle of the pack in Section 1-5A after splitting a pair of section games and capping the week with a nonsection victory. Senior Eddie Morris enjoyed a great week at the plate and on the hill as he went 4 for 8 with a home run, two runs scored and four RBIs in the three games. Plus he pitched in two of the three contests, throwing 52/3 innings of scoreless ball, allowing four hits, striking out seven and picking up a “W” in wins over Penn Hills and Karns City.
Noah Henderson, Freedom
Freedom won two of its three section games last week as it slowly climbed the ladder in Section 2-3A — it sits in second behind Hopewell. In the wins over Ellwood City and Shady Side Academy, Henderson was 3 for 8 with three runs scored and a couple of runs batted in. Against the Indians on Wednesday, Henderson picked up the complete-game victory, allowing only one run on eight hits, lowering his season ERA to 0.95.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.