Thursday, April 14, 2022 | 6:00 p.m.
Simplistic and fun, some trinkets around the clubhouse represent Latrobe’s approach to baseball.
There’s the pink Barbie car, with Ken and Barbie tucked in and ready to roll, which is a post-game prize that goes to the player or players of the game.
The shoebox-sized toy has been around since the team’s 2017 WPIAL and PIAA championships.
A WWE-style championship belt has a similar weight.
There’s even a stuffed shark that sits on the bench to remind Section 1-5A leaders to stay hungry. The team: Not one player, but all of them.
The Wildats are a fun-loving, vocal and feisty bunch, but they tend to get serious when it matters most.
“It’s a team concept here and the youngsters have bought into that,” coach Matt Basciano said. “The elders started it for this group and they passed it on to those elders. Everyone has a role and is ready to do whatever it takes to help us win.
“This Barbie car is very important to them. The shark reminds them to attack when there is blood in the water.
The rewards, however insignificant to outsiders, have caught on. Often, however, they went to see the whole team.
“One thing is we’ll never give up,” senior receiver Logan Short said. “We will continue to look for a way to win.”
Short is hitting over .600 and had a big two-game streak against Franklin Regional, the defending WPIAL 5A class champion.
Short had three hits and four RBIs, including a double, as the Wildcats (6-2, 4-0) swept the Panthers, 5-4, 4-3, to bring their winning streak to five.
He also caught Chase Sickenberger’s eight-strikeout performance in Game 2.
“These guys are ready to play tough defensive play, bunt – quality bats – to help us win,” Basciano said.
Latrobe has won three straight one-point games. The other was a 7-6 win over Hempfield.
The Wildcats also beat Indiana, 4-3.
Basciano often tells his hitters to “hunt”. In several instances this season, the Wildcats have looked for ways to get wins, whether it’s with a small ball, a double play that turns the tide or an extra hit at the perfect time, in the perfect situation.
The Wildcats develop a keen sense of difficult situations.
“We’re relentless,” said Sickenberger, who also plays shortstop. “We are all ready to play.”
The Wildcats have 10 seniors and also received key contributions from Jake Albaugh (P/OF), Bobby Fetter (P), Mason Krinock (IF) and Owen Miele (IF).
“I can’t say enough about the cohesion and selflessness of this group,” Basciano said. “They all care about each other and really want to see us succeed as a team.”