It appears the Sewickley Academy baseball team will have a nice mix of experience and talented underclassmen this spring.

"Overall, with the combination of experienced leadership, new talent and improved facilities, the team has the potential to have a memorable and successful season in 2024,” coach Andrew Petruska said. "We’re poised for an exciting season.”

Returning starters are seniors Jordan Smith and Michael Woo, sophomore Billy Pietragallo and juniors Will Straka and Nolan Donnelly.

Smith was the Panthers’ leading hitter and pitcher last season.

"I expect bright things from these boys. We are a great group of boys that are just trying to have fun,” Smith said. "I didn’t think we’d have a team because we were short on players, but a little bit of convincing on my end got us some more players for a full roster.

"We are not really a young team. We’re full of players that are just starting up baseball or trying to get back into the groove of the sport. Despite all of this, we have been making some big progress and won two of our scrimmages this past week. So far, I am proud of us and look forward to a good season.”

Smith (P/IF/OF), Woo (P/OF), Donnelly (P/IF) and Pietragallo (OF) were listed among the top players to watch in Class A by Trib HSSN.

"I expect to see a lot of improvement during the season since we have a lot of new players,” Woo said. "Our team core includes four seniors, all with lots of leadership experience, which can really excite our team. We have experienced coaches, and I know they will make sure we will not only have a fun time but also be a very competitive baseball team.

"I think that not only we will go to the playoffs, but we also will win a playoff game. I feel like our Sewickley team coincides with the Japanese national team. The Japanese national team won the WBC; just like them, we consider ourselves winners.”

Notable newcomers to the team include seniors Cooper Wentz and Raph Jones, junior Karan Kad and freshman Jacob Stanislaw.

Petruska offered a list of expectations for the 2024 club:

• Leadership from Jordan Smith: "As a four-year starter, Jordan will likely be a key leader both on and off the field. His experience and dedication can set the tone for the team’s work ethic and attitude.”

• Integration of new players: "There will be a period of adjustment as the new players become acclimated to the team dynamics and playing style. However, their fresh perspectives and skills can inject new energy into the team.”

• Development of young roster: "There is potential for significant growth and improvement throughout the season. Coaches and senior players like Jordan Smith can play a crucial role in mentoring and nurturing the talents of younger teammates.”

• Strong pitching, defense and hitting: "The addition of new players to fill specific roles in pitching, defense and hitting indicates a strategic approach to strengthening the team in key areas. Developing a well-rounded team with depth in all aspects of the game will be essential for success.”

• Excitement surrounding renovated baseball field: "The newly renovated baseball field can serve as a source of motivation and pride for the team. Playing in a state-of-the-art facility can elevate the players’ confidence and performance while attracting more support from fans and the community.”

Sewickley ended up in third place with a 9-3 record in Section 3-A last season behind Eden Christian (11-1) and Bishop Canevin (10-2), which went on to capture the WPIAL championship.

The Panthers started out with 1-4 and 3-7 records but picked up steam in the second half of the season, winning six in a row down the home stretch.

SA belted Fort Cherry, 13-6, the first round of the WPIAL playoffs then lost to Union, 7-2, to finish 10-8 overall.

Graduation losses from last year’s team include the likes of Adin Zorn, Nick Straka, Nick Madison, Hudson Coletti and Bennett Spencer. Zorn is a freshman outfielder at Penn State.

Petruska, in his eighth season at the Panthers’ coach, is assisted by Jon Coyne, Craig Edmunds and Tony Carrillo.

The veteran field boss indicated Bishop Canevin and Eden Christian as the teams to beat again in the section.

Softball team building

The Sewickley Academy softball team, with six freshmen on its roster, is in a rebuilding stage in 2024.

The Panthers finished 3-9 in Section 1-A and 3-10 overall last season.

"Our (former) head coach and A.D. Win Palmer passed away in the fall, so we are dedicating our efforts to him,” Sewickley coach Bob Sirko said. "We have no seniors on the team but have built our numbers in the middle school program.

"We have players that are new to the team and many new to the sport. Every player on the varsity roster is eligible to return next season and, together with the numbers at the middle school level, we feel we have the beginnings to build a strong program.”

Sirko was greeted by four returning starters in his first season at the helm: juniors Marie Bigi (C), Quincy Sirko (P/3B) and Laurie Lau (2B/OF) and sophomore Sanaa Grant (P/3B).

Sirko, Bigi and Grant will serve as team captains this season.

"Quincy and Marie will be expected to again be our battery and provide power in the four and five slots of our lineup,” said Sirko, who coached for 12 years at Carlow. "Sanaa will be helping with pitching duties this year and play wherever needed and bat either leadoff or third.

"Keisha Church will be our shortstop and bat at the top of the lineup.”

Church and freshman Layla Miller (1B/3B) are expected to make an impact for the Panthers.

Rounding out the squad are sophomores Genevieve Kain (OF) and Vanshika Jeevan (IF/OF), junior Persaya Williams and freshmen Sophia Khan (IF/OF), Athena Wheeler (OF), Maddie Capozzi and Willow Simmons.

Sewickley is a member of Section 1-A again. Union won last year’s section title along with a WPIAL championship.

"We are in a very strong section,” said Sirko, who is assisted by Shannon Rankin. "With a young, inexperienced team, the focus will be on development and effort.”

Sirko’s best season at Carlow was 2016 when the Celtics finished 31-14 and a USCAA World Series finalist. Sirko was named coach of the year.

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