Trib HSSN baseball player of the week for April 9, 2023

Sunday, April 9, 2023 | 9:54 PM

As a sophomore last year, Zane Griffaton batted .317 with two home runs and 17 RBIs for West Mifflin.

But when you ask him about the Titans’ WPIAL Class 4A championship run from last season, Griffaton gets defensive.

“Playing spectacular defense, I feel, played a really big part in our success last season,” he said. “We always had that one guy that made the play, when needed, to get us out of the inning.”

Hit hard by graduation, Griffaton and his Titans teammates haven’t missed a beat. They are off to a 7-1 start.

“What stands out differently this year than last is Zane has much more control of the mental approach to the game,” West Mifflin coach Jeff Kuzma said. “Zane has always had a lot of physical talent, and he works real hard in the offseason to maintain that.”

The Titans began play in a tough Section 3-4A with back-to-back games against 2011 district champion Elizabeth Forward.

On Monday, Griffaton came up big at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and home run, three runs scored and six RBIs in the Titans’ win over the visiting Warriors, 15-6.

“Batting leadoff and starting the game hot sets the tone for the rest of the game,” Griffaton said. “If I start off, then the team is going to start off hot and keep on rolling.”

Though West Mifflin cruised to victory Monday, the rematch at EF was much closer.

Griffaton was the Titans’ starting pitcher and was chased in the third inning when he gave up four unearned runs.

That didn’t slow down the junior center fielder at the plate as Griffaton was 3-for-5 with another double and three runs scored as the Titans fought back to tie the score 5-5 before winning it with two runs in the top of the 11th inning to sweep the series 7-5.

“Now as a junior, he is starting to understand the mental approach to the game and how to separate a bad at-bat or a below-average pitching performance and not let it affect the other parts of the game,” Kuzma said. “On our team we call that ‘the next-pitch mentality.’ We saw that against EF on Tuesday. He did not have his best stuff and was able to separate that from his plate appearances, and as you see did very well.”

For the season, Griffaton is batting .423 with 13 runs scored and nine RBIs.

On the mound in 9 2/3 innings pitched, he has allowed four earned runs, walked four and struck out 16.

The 2-0 start in section play is good for the defending champions, but Griffaton knows the section is loaded and the Titans have a lot of work to do.

“I’m usually paying attention to the standings to see what’s going on in our section,” Griffaton said. “I know Char Valley and TJ are some good baseball teams we’re going to play late in the season.”

Up next for the Titans is a home-and-home series with McKeesport starting on the turf at West Mifflin on Tuesday.

“I’m very pleased. We are off to a good start as a team,” Kuzma said “Our staff has worked extremely hard with what is a very young team this year, preparing them for what I think is the toughest section in 4A baseball.”

2023 Trib HSSN Baseball Players of the Week

Week 1 – Ryan Opfer, Chartiers-Houston


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