Trib HSSN Head of the Class: Baseball Player and Coach of the Year for each classification
Saturday, July 3, 2021 | 7:01 PM
Whether their school had students in the classroom or virtually this spring, there is a special seat up front reserved for these standout performers and coaches in the return to the baseball field.
Trib HSSN salutes all players and coaches for their great work in the return of spring sports in 2021, however these players and coaches stood out for their performance on diamonds around the WPIAL, and get an extra tip of the cap for a job well done.
The following have reached the Trib HSSN Head of the Class for this past season and are our players and coaches of the year in each classification.
POY: Cole Young, North Allegheny
Young was a top run-producer in a championship lineup but the junior shortstop also earned accolades for his defense. The Duke recruit turned 12 double plays and had a .952 fielding percentage with five errors in 105 chances. The Tigers won the WPIAL title and were state runners-up. Young batted .437 with 33 runs, 23 RBIs and 14 extra-base hits.
COY: Andrew Heck, North Allegheny
Heck led NA to the WPIAL finals for the third time in his four seasons and this time came away with gold. The WPIAL title was the team’s first since 2013, following runner-up finishes in 2018 and ’19. NA now owns a record eight WPIAL titles. The Tigers went 23-3 and finished as state runners-up.
POY: Eric Chalus, Bethel Park
The Kent State recruit was unbeatable on the mound this spring. The senior left-hander went 11-0 and pitched the Black Hawks to a victory in the PIAA Class 5A championship, silencing one of the state’s top offenses. Chalus finished with a 0.97 ERA in 72 innings, and showed great control by striking out 91 batters and walking only four. He also batted .386 with 23 RBIs and played center field when not on the mound.
COY: Patrick Zehnder, Bethel Park
This was a big year for some first-season coaches. Zehnder was promoted to head prior to the 2020 season, which was canceled by the pandemic. The team bided its time, and this spring Zehnder guided Bethel Park to a state championship. The Black Hawks finished 22-4 and came within a run of also winning the WPIAL.
POY: Rocco Bernadina, New Castle
The Kent State recruit went 7-4 on the mound with a 2.36 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings. The senior right-hander was at his best in the Class 4A postseason. Bernadina led the Red Hurricanes to their first WPIAL title, and they added their first state championship a couple of weeks later. He also batted .403 with 20 runs, 27 RBIs and 12 extra-base hits.
COY: Bill Cook, New Castle
New Castle owns the most boys basketball titles in WPIAL history, and the football team ranks near the top of the all-time championships list. Yet, the baseball team had never won a WPIAL title until this spring. The Red Hurricanes went 18-9 and won their first WPIAL and PIAA titles, under Cook, a third-year (second season) coach.
POY: Roman Gill, Hopewell
The senior right-hander went 9-1 with a 1.36 ERA as the ace for WPIAL Class 3A champion Hopewell. Opponents batted .175 against him. The Cal (Pa.) recruit struck out 11 batters in a game three times. Gill finished the season with 85 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings. He also played third base and batted .333.
COY: Morgan Singletary, Hopewell
Singletary also had his debut season as coach delayed by the pandemic but certainly made up for time lost. Hopewell went 18-6 this spring and won the WPIAL title as the No. 1 seed in Class 3A. The title was the Vikings’ first since 2010 and their fourth overall.
POY: Shane Cato, Shenango
The pitcher and infielder was a two-way star in Shenango’s run to its first WPIAL title. The Grove City recruit batted .492 with a team-high 37 RBIs, 24 runs, 16 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases. His on-base percentage was .650. On the mound, the right-hander went 10-2 with a 3.10 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings.
COY: Larry Kelly, Shenango
At 67, Kelly became a first-time head coach and led the Wildcats on a wild ride. Shenango went 23-3, won its first WPIAL title and came within a run of winning the state championship. Kelly also serves as an assistant basketball coach at New Castle, which won the WPIAL in the winter.
POY: Jake Vitale, Union
After runner-up finishes in 2018 and ‘19, Vitale carried the Scotties to their first WPIAL title this season. The senior threw a no-hitter with 15 strikeouts in the finals. The left-hander finished the season with an 8-1 record, a 1.74 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. He also batted .378.
COY: Steve Good, Eden Christian
A decade ago, the school didn’t have a baseball team. Yet, Good had them playing on the state’s biggest stage this spring as PIAA runners-up. The Warriors (20-6) were upset in the WPIAL semifinals, but regrouped for a run to the state finals — which was Good’s last game as coach.
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Trib HSSN Postseason Awards
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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