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The Hempfield baseball team is showing signs of being a strong competitor

With a coach called “Buzz,” the Hempfield baseball team is starting to gain attention in the WPIAL’s biggest division.

With a coach called “Buzz,” the Hempfield baseball team is starting to gain attention in the WPIAL’s biggest division.

The Spartans are 6-0 overall and 2-0 in Section 2-6A as they head into the final game of their three-game series against Central Catholic. They are averaging 9.5 runs per game.

According to coach Tim Buzzard, a strong start is a nice bonus for a skilled group. The challenge is maintaining the momentum in section play and beyond while improving all the moving parts and continuing to play solid, fundamental baseball.

“The more important thing has been getting many players involved to ensure they are ready for section play,” Buzzard said. “Offensively, we have had a high percentage of quality at-bats. We have had a lot of different contributors and have done a good job of getting to bullpens early.”

Hempfield had outscored its opponents 57-17, scoring 11 or more runs three times. The team won twice against out-of-state teams at the Ripken Experience — 3-0 against Whitney Young (Ill.) and 11-1 over Chardon (Ohio) — before defeating Blackhawk, 15-4, Latrobe, 9-6, and Central Catholic, 13-2 and 6-4.

The Spartans were hitting .318 as a team and had 14 extra-base hits. But the pitching staff gave up a sharp 1.79 ERA behind a defense with a .929 fielding percentage.

“Our pitching staff has done a good job so far,” Buzzard said. “I feel the depth we have on the mound is a real strong point for this year. Our team has a lot of confidence in so many different guys. Including our two scrimmages, we have been able to use 11 different guys.”

Senior Jack Kurdziel was 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in three appearances. Senior Parker Donsen was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA, and junior Dylan Firmstone, a Penn State commit, had a 1-0 mark with a 0.00 ERA.

Firmstone is also an important infielder.

Three other players are going to college, including senior outfielder Ethan Minerva (Cal U), Donsen (Pitt-Johnstown) and senior infielder/catcher Carson Shuglie (Seton Hill).

“They are very good players and leaders for us,” Buzzard said of the college-level talent. “We have many other strong senior leaders on this team, as well, that are not committed to schools.”

Included in that category are senior all-section catcher Caden Biondi, senior Adam Hess (first base) and senior Max Short (third base).

Short and junior Quinn Wilkins were leading the team with a .500 batting average and each had seven RBIs, and Shuglie was hitting .412 with a home run, eight RBIs and seven runs.

Minerva was batting .444 with eight runs.

“I think what really brings our team together to win many of our games is our team chemistry and how well we work together, even in tough situations,” Firmstone said. “I believe we had the ability to start the season strong in Myrtle Beach, and it was great seeing our guys perform well in those games.

“We are aiming to be strong contenders this year, and I think we can have a great season if we stay true to what our team is known for and perform well in close games.”

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