With 1st-year coach, Mt. Pleasant American Legion baseball looks to build on solid foundation

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Monday, June 24, 2024 | 1:04 PM


After the Mt. Pleasant high school baseball team took first place in Section 4-3A with an 11-1 record this past season, the Mt. Pleasant American Legion baseball team, sponsored by Legion Post 446, is looking to build off of that success in District 31 play.

Several players from the section title-winning team continue to play for Mt. Pleasant into the summer. With former manager Michael Golkosky stepping away to focus on the administrative side of the team, first-year coach Jason Beranek believes his team can contend in the competitive West Division.

“We got a group of old guys and a lot of young guys,” Beranek said. “We started off hot and had some hiccups. … Our goal is to get these young guys to develop. The outcome we see for us is next spring.”

Beranek’s team went 4-4 in its first eight games, and for a team looking to improve, the start provided a promising foundation.

Cole Chatfield, Ryan McKula, Jacob Kitz and Santino Marne have carried hot bats thus far. Nevertheless, younger players are routinely striving to improve their games, such as rising junior Dane Firmstone.

“My overall goal is to minimize strikeouts, consistently find strong contact and to make as little errors as possible,” Firmstone said. “I am performing to expectations, but there is always room for improvement, which is what I hope to do this season.”

While Firmstone is focused on getting better, Jacob Kitz has been a two-way star for the high school and American Legion teams, particularly as a pitcher. As the junior high coach at Mt. Pleasant as well, Beranek witnessed Kitz’s impressive performances firsthand.

“Jacob Kitz was our section MVP this season. He really performed well on the mound. … He’ll be an upcoming senior this year,” Beranek said. “His leadership further shows how good (he is as a player).”

A couple of key players left the team that finished below .500 last season. Keeping that in mind, Beranek is hoping that his 15 players from Mt. Pleasant and two players from Southmoreland form team chemistry quickly. Most of the team is returning, so they can rally around each other and string together victories in pursuit of a winning season.

“Our team is primarily made up of Mt. Pleasant players, and it has helped with our team’s confidence and trust in each other,” Firmstone said. “I am proud to be part of such a great team. Not only are the players athletically talented, but they are also great guys to be around.”

The team’s success has come from the top to the bottom of the lineup. Even first-time players coming off the bench have provided a spark when given the opportunity.

“Cole Hart, Brady Brooks and Carter Urban, they’ve gotten to see some good playing time, and they’ve stepped in on the mound, in the field and at the plate,” Beranek said. “And, it’s very exciting for the young kids to come up and see what they have.”

In the early part of the season, Mt. Pleasant knocked off Unity, Yough, Hempfield East and Somerset and lost to Murrysville, Latrobe, Trafford and Homer City.

“We’ve been competitive. … We go out and try to compete every game. We’ve got a lot of young guys, and we want to see them responding,” Beranek said. “A couple of (teams) we’ve beaten are bigger than us, so those were some nice wins.”

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