Mountain Cats sight in on defense

Emily Moore, Copy Editor

With a 3-10 record so far into their season, the Pitt-Johnstown baseball team has yet to start conference games, but has aspects to improve on.

With an overall record of 18-30 last season, junior infielder Jack Shirk said that this year’s team has room to improve.

“Our success will be pivotal on whether we can continue to bond together and play as a team and for each other,” Shirk said.

“We definitely do not have the talent we had last year, but I think we have a better overall group of guys, and if we capitalize on that, I think we can compete in the (Pennsylvania State Athletic) conference tournament.

“I don’t think our 3-8 record really tells the right story about our team. We have been winning every game this year in the fourth inning or later, except one game,” Shirk said.

“If we can figure out a way to finish games, we will have more success, but, overall, that is our issue: finishing games and shutting down opponents late in games.”

The Mountain Cats held an 8-20 conference record last year.

To be better than last year’s record, Shirk said  team members need to work on defensive spots and pitching.

“Heading into conference, we are working on solidifying some spots around the field and figuring out which pitchers we can rely on,” Shirk said.

“We are counting on some young players like Dylan Heid and Braxton Roxby to step up and be great arms, and also relying on some of our older pitchers like junior Ben Foose and sophomore Brady Walker to give us quality starts every weekend,” Shirk said.

“Overall, we are just working on keeping our foot on the pedal when we are leading and closing our games.”

Shirk said that they have some advantages that competitors don’t have, but the Mountain Cats have to learn to use those advantages.

“I think what our team has that others don’t is just a lot of chemistry. All the guys are pretty close, unlike previous years when the team had a lot of cliques.”

“This is the first step in any successful team, so we are looking to build on this,” Shirk said.

“We are all small and speedy. We don’t really have any power bats this year, so we are going to need to manufacture runs by playing aggressively on the bases.”

Shirk is in his second year being a Mountain Cat. Compared to his previous team, Shirk said that he loves being a Mountain Cat.

“I have never been closer with a group of guys,” Shirk said.

Senior outfielder Dan Clark said the team improved this year with the aspect of being a team.

“Being a team will allow us to be successful and take us to the next level. It helps us beat our opponents,” Clark said.

Although they improved on coming together, Clark said that they need to work on staying together.

“If we won’t (stay together), then the season will be over earlier than it should be.”

With all of the conference teams yet to face, the Mountain Cats have some obstacles to overcome if they want to make it higher than they did last season.

According to Clark, this season is going to be tough and difficult to make the playoffs.

“To make the playoffs, everything will be hard because the conference if so tough and the teams (are)  so competitive and well coached.”

“We just have to believe and have the confidence in ourselves and the team,” Clark said.