Trib HSSN baseball player of the week for May 7, 2023

Sunday, May 7, 2023 | 10:19 PM

A Trib HSSN baseball player of the week can come in many shapes and sizes.

Sometimes it’s a young man having a strong season by adding to his super stats.

Other times it’s a monumental performance that stands out.

This week, we tip our cap to a young man who was struggling at the plate but picked a great time to discover a hot stick.

Plum junior Colin Watson is known more for his arm than his stick, but he had several big hits in back-to-back games to lead his team to a sweep of Franklin Regional in a Section 1-5A showdown, putting the Mustangs alone in first place.

Coming into the week, Watson was only 3 for 24 this year, leaving him with a .125 batting average.

However, four hits in eight at-bats have him up to .241 and looking for more.

“We were working all week in the cage as I was trying to figure out my swing,” Watson said. “We had BP before the game on Thursday, and Coach Cory (Podvasnik) helped me fix my swing. He did something with my hands, and the next thing you know I had the two-game series I did. I give that credit to him.”

Watson was two-for-four on Thursday with a double and two RBI, and then followed up on Friday with two more hits, including a home run over the center-field fence at Haymaker Park in Murrysville.

“He’s a player who just comes to work every day at practice, doesn’t pout or complain, just goes to work,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. “He had some struggles at the plate, but he never stopped working. The days we had off at the beginning of the week gave us a chance to look at his swing and make a minor adjustment. It seems to have helped. Our players’ reaction to Colin’s success tells you everything about the person, teammate and player he is.”

While Watson has struggled at the dish for most of this season, he has been electric on the mound.

Usually used in short relief, Watson’s number was called in the second inning Thursday after Plum fell behind Franklin Regional, 5-0.

All Watson did was pitch 5 2/3 innings, giving up no runs on only two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in the Mustangs’ comeback win, 7-5.

“In the moment, it was, keep us in this and give us a chance,” Vollmer said. “Looking back, honestly, Colin’s performance saved our section title chances. The results led to many positives for us as a team such as momentum, confidence and raising the performance of others around him.”

The next day, thanks in part to Watson’s two hits and two RBI, Plum defeated Franklin Regional, 8-2, to take sole possession of the top spot in the section.

For the season, Watson is 2-1 with an ERA of 0.90 with one save in nine appearances. He has given up three earned runs in 23 1/3 innings pitched with 18 hits and only six walks allowed, and he has struck out 30.

“Colin is our top relief guy,” Vollmer said. “He could be a starter for sure, but he has always done well in a relief role. He has been in high-leverage situations all year, it is a really tough job, but he has been great in it. He fills up the strike zone, throws two pitches for a strike and he tunnels the ball really well, which can make him tough to hit. He has really good numbers, and we like him in that role. And I believe he likes that role.”

Entering the last week of the regular season, Plum has a one-game lead over Fox Chapel and Penn-Trafford and now a two-game edge on Franklin Regional.

This week, while the Warriors battle the Panthers, the Mustangs will be trying to clinch a section crown against the Foxes.

“It’s another tough section series against a good team,” Vollmer said. “We will see some good arms as we have all year, so hopefully it has us prepared to compete at a high level. It will be intense and fun. This is why we all love high school baseball, for games like this. This is why we put work in all year around. They are a good team, and I think we can be pretty good, too.”

2023 Trib HSSN Baseball Players of the Week

Week 5 – Andrew Hart, North Allegheny

Week 4 – Frank Kula, Laurel Highlands

Week 3 – Mason Horwat, Avonworth

Week 2 – Zane Griffaton, West Mifflin

Week 1 – Ryan Opfer, Chartiers-Houston


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