Westmoreland notebook: Belle Vernon’s Hoffman commits to Youngstown State

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Saturday, November 4, 2017 | 5:36 PM


Belle Vernon's Josh Hoffman had interest from several Division I baseball programs but none surpassed the level of interest he had in Youngstown State.

Hoffman, a shortstop who is projected by some scouts to be a center fielder in college, gave Youngstown State a verbal commitment.

The junior also visited Kent State and Ohio State, and Dayton was a strong suitor.

“The things that sold me on YSU were the coaching staff and the facilities,” Hoffman said. “It felt like home when I was there.”

Hoffman hit .409 as a sophomore with 27 runs and 19 stolen bases. He struck out just three times in 73 at-bats.

In AAU season, he played for the Beaver Valley 16U team and batted .423 with 10 doubles, seven triples and three home runs in 35 games. He drove in 41 runs and scored 31.

A pair of summer showcases helped increase his exposure. Hoffman (5-foot-8, 155 pounds) took part in the Santa Showcase in Youngstown, and a few other Prep Baseball Report events in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

According to Belle Vernon coach Daryl Hixenbaugh, scouts like Hoffman's footwork, speed and arm strength (84 mph across the diamond), as well as his bat speed.

YSU plays in the Horizon Conference. The Penguins went 15-40 last season but hit 50 home runs and averaged nearly five runs a game.

Derry names coach

Derry hired William Tyler Johnson as its new girls basketball coach.

Johnson is a former Pitt-Greensburg men's assistant and also served as a grad assistant at Cal U. Most recently, he coached at Scott Campus, a prep school in Franklin County. He also has a strong concentration on AAU basketball.

He replaces Rich Zemba, who resigned in September for job-related reasons. He went 38-68 in five seasons.

Soccer honors

Girls all-WPIAL and all-section teams were released, and Westmoreland County players once again had a strong presence.

Area all-WPIAL players are: Alexis Demko of Belle Vernon; Leesha Wagner of Burrell; Sophia Hudson of Franklin Regional; Sidney Ward and Brenna Springer of Greensburg Central Catholic; Lexi Moyer of Kiski Area; Christina Czegan and Ally Bloom of Mt. Pleasant; Emily Harrigan, Lexy Kendro, Emily Arnold and Sam Wexell of Norwin; Mackenzie Aunkst, Lauren Stovar, Hannah Nguyen and Megan Giesey of Penn-Trafford; and Justine Appolonia of Yough.

Locals on the all-section teams:

Section 1-AAAA: Meg Jones of Hempfield; Harrigan, Arnold, Kendro, Maddie Genicola, and Wexell of Norwin; Aunkst, Stovar, Hannah Nguyen, Giesey, Brady Tramuta and Sarah Nguyen of Penn-Trafford; and Lexi Moyer, Sidney Palla, Christa Palla and Courtney Moyer of Kiski Area.

Section 1-AAA: Hudson, Calla Solomon, Victoria Rothrauff and Sydney Caldwell of Franklin Regional.

Section 2-AAA: Demko, Isabella Laurita and Keele Selvoski of Belle Vernon; and Czegan, Bloom, Mackenzie Leeder and Brooke Ulery of Mt. Pleasant.

Section 2-AA: Wagner, Morgan Weeter and Skylar Dale of Burrell; and Heaven Butler, Valley.

Section 3-AA: Grace Hackman, Derry; and Justine Appolonia and Gianna Appolinia of Yough.

Section 1-A: Ward, Springer, Gabby Skatell, Sam Felder, and Isabella Pellis of Greensburg Central Catholic; and Chloe Stein of Jeannette.

Section 2-A: Destiny Habeck of Monessen.

Big 56 picks

The Big 56 Athletic Conferences website recognized all-section teams in boys and girls soccer.

Boys soccer first-team selections from Section 4-AAAA included Carter Breen and Zach Ullum of Norwin; Noah Schessinger, Austin Kreutzberger and Ryan Hilty of Penn-Trafford; and Dom DiFalco, Auston Kranick, Shane Popko, Jake Trapanotto and Jeremy Lucas of Franklin Regional.

Rand Hudson of Franklin Regional was the Section 4 coach of the year.

Girls Section 4-4A first-teamers were: Stovar, Aunkst, Hannah Nguyen and Sarah Nguyen of Penn-Trafford; Harrigan, Kendro, Arnold and Wexell of Norwin; Jones of Hempfield; and Lexy Moyer and Sidney Palla of Kiski Area.

Jackie Bartko was named Section 4 coach of the year.

All-section volleyball

The Big 56 also recognized its all-section volleyball teams.

Section 3-4A had the most local players. Selections were: Marissa Farabaugh and Rachel Langsdorf of Norwin; Samantha Kelly and Jessica Heiman of Penn-Trafford; Terese Mihalcin of Latrobe; and Gabby Kuhns, Kiersten Schade and McKayla Dedo of Hempfield.

Coach of the year went to Norwin's Mary Ellen Ferragonio.

Cassie Shoupe of Kiski Area was a first-teamer in Section 4-4A.

Secret weapon?

Having some fun with the roster feature on MaxPreps, Ligonier Valley lists No. 99 on its football roster as Darth Vader.

The Star Wars dark leader is listed as a senior and even has a mug shot. As if the Rams (11-0) weren't feared enough in the Heritage Conference and District 6.

“Yeah. He's out secret weapon,” senior receiver Jackson Daugherty said. “We only bring him out when we need him.”

The Rams average nearly 50 points per game.

Recruiting buzz

Former Southmoreland basketball standout Brandon Stone, a 6-foot-11 swing-forward, was offered a scholarship by South Carolina. Stone, who transferred to The Christ School in Arden, N.C., now has 13 Division I offers.

• Latrobe junior basketball player Reed Fenton took a second unofficial visit to Holy Cross, where former teammate Austin Butler is playing.

• Greensburg Central Catholic senior James Rice will continue his baseball career at Mt. Aloysius.

Winter's near

The WPIAL's first official practice date for winter sports is Nov. 17.

Basketball, wrestling, swimming and gymnastics seasons open Dec. 8. Rifle starts four days earlier.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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