- High School
Ten Player WPIAL Baseball All-Star Team
Two players who led Blackhawk to a WPIAL championship, two players taken in the Major League Baseball draft, and a pitcher who was close to untouchable lead the 2012 MSA Sports Diamond Studs all-star team.
The team is made up of the top 10 players in the WPIAL and is selected by the MSA Sports staff.
The two Blackhawk players are Brenday McKay and Matt Emge.
The two drafted players are Neshannock’s John Sansone and Valley’s Zarley Zalewski.
The stud pitcher who rarely gave up a run was Thomas Jefferson’s Greg Schneider.
Here is a look at the MSA Sports Diamond Studs team.
2012 MSA SPORTS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Thomas Jefferson P Sr.
Schneider used his right arm to carry the Jaguars to one of the best seasons in school history, as the team made it to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals. And for a while, Schneider had an impressive scoreless run.
It was rare when teams scored on Schneider, a right-hander. At one point, he had a scoreless streak of 32 consecutive innings before giving up a run and losing to Blackhawk, 1-0, in nine innings in the WPIAL semifinals. His pitching duel with Blackhawk’s Brendan McKay in that game was one of the most memorable in WPIAL playoff history. Schneider pitched a one-hitter in the game and the hit didn’t come until the ninth inning. McKay pitched a two-hitter.
Schneider finished the season with a 9-2 record, and both losses were to Blackhawk and McKay (the other in the PIAA quarterfinals). Schneider’s ERA was a surreal 0.43 as he allowed only five earned runs in 82 1/3 innings (11 runs overall). He averaged close to two strikeouts an inning with 140. He walked only 23.
But Schneider was also huge at the plate for the Jaguars. He batted .514 with eight doubles, six triples, four home runs and 30 RBIs.
Schneider will play next season at the University of Pittsburgh.
Mount Lebanon SS-P Sr.
Happ did a little of everything for the Blue Devils, who made it to the WPIAL Class AAAA final. He batted .506 with 13 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 31 RBIs and 30 runs scored. He also was an excellent defensive player at shortstop.
But Happ also had an effect on the Blue Devils as a pitcher, mostly in relief. He was 3-1 with seven saves. He had a 2.79 ERA and struck out 23 in 19 1/3 innings.
Happ will play next season at the University of Cincinnati.
Seneca Valley P Sr.
Seneca Valley won the WPIAL Class AAAA championship for the second consecutive season and Smith won all three playoff games for the Raiders this season. He allowed only five earned runs in those three games.
Smith finished 11-1 and had an ERA of 1.97. He struck out 80 in 71 innings and allowed 54 hits. This after a junior season in which he had an ERA of 1.89. Smith was 20-2 in two seasons.
Smith will pitch next season at Georgetown.
Blackhawk P-1B-OF Soph.
McKay wasn’t your usual 10th-grader. He was one of the top players in the WPIAL. As a pitcher, he had a scoreless streak of 35 consecutive innings that started near the end of the season and lasted until the sixth inning of the PIAA quarterfinals. McKay finished with a 9-1 record for the WPIAL AAA champions and had an ERA of 0.52. He struck out 96 in 81 innings. He won the WPIAL championship, 1-0, against Belle Vernon.
McKay also was a top hitter, batting .400 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 22 RBIs.
Blackhawk C Sr.
Emge was a fort behind home plate as a catcher, and also a standout hitter for the WPIAL Class AAA champion and PIAA semifinalist Cougars.
Many considered him one of the top defensive catchers in the WPIAL. He has an excellent arm and also was tremendous at blocking pitches. He batted .390, second-best on the team. He had four doubles, one triple, two home runs and 28 RBIs.
Next season, Emge will play at Ohio State.
Valley SS Sr.
Zalewski is a talented, all-around player who was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40th and final round of the Major League Baseball draft. Zalewski finished fifth in the WPIAL in batting during the regular season with a .574 average. He also was tied for the lead in home runs with eight and was second in RBIs with 36. He also scored 25 runs and was an excellent defensive player.
Before he was drafted, Zalewski had signed to play at Kent State, which is in the College World Series this weekend.
Shady Side Academy P-1B Sr.
Hartz was Mr. Everything for Shady Side Academy. He was a four-year starter and batted over .500 the past three seasons. This year, he helped Shady Side Academy reach the WPIAL Class AA semifinals and the PIAA playoffs.
Hartz finished the regular season with a .489 average, five home runs and 22 RBIs. As a pitcher, he was 6-1 with 48 strikeouts.
Serra Catholic P-OF Sr.
This Eagle soared during his four-year career at Serra. He is one of the winningest pitchers in WPIAL history, finishing his career with a 31-2 record. He threw a no-hitter for the Eagles in the WPIAL Class A championship two years ago and his career ERA was 1.18.
He didn’t lose a game until his senior year and he finished this season with a 7-2 record and a 2.30 ERA. During the regular season, he had 92 strikeouts, tops in the WPIAL. He also had a .500 batting average in the regular season.
Neshannock SS Sr.
When it comes to the best hitter in the WPIAL, it’s “Johnny on the spot.” For the past two seasons, Sansone led the WPIAL in hitting during the regular season. This year, he batted .660 after hitting .661 last year. For the entire year, he batted better than .600 with 12 doubles, six triples, seven home runs and 40 RBIs.
Sansone was selected in the 39th round of the draft by the Detroit Tigers. Before he was drafted, he had planned to attend Florida State.
California P Sr.
Conway is 6 feet 5, 225 pounds and he was an imposing figure on the California baseball team, helping the Trojans reach the WPIAL Class A championship game. Conway had a perfect record until a championship loss to Neshannock. He pitched every WPIAL playoff game for California and finished with a 12-2 record and 121 strikeouts. He also batted above .500.
Conway was California’s starting quarterback the past two seasons and will play football next season at California, Pa., where his father is the Vulcans’ defensive coordinator.