Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hunger for Wins Fueling Team

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hunger for Wins Fueling Team

Article excerpt

After a disappointing season representing Gateway High School, baseball players for the Monroeville American Legion team entered the summer season hungry for victory.

Right off the bat, so to speak, that hunger did not translate into positive results. The young Monroeville team was done in by errors and walks in an 11-4 season-opening loss to Penn Hills.

But Rob Wratcher, the team's 23-year-old, first-year coach, was not about to panic.

Nearly the entire Monroeville Legion team was a part of the Gateway High School varsity team this past season. The Gators struggled through a 1-13 campaign.

"These kids are definitely hungry to win because of the [high school] season they had," Wratcher said. "They are playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. They know they are better players than that."

The Monroeville Legion team bounced back and quickly tripled its win total from its high school season with three consecutive wins against Swissvale, Shaler and Plum. After that 11-4 loss, the Monroeville pitching and defense settled down, allowing only five total runs in the three wins.

Wratcher, a 2008 Gateway graduate, has helped bring a relaxed mood around the Legion season. Last summer the Monroeville team had trouble with numbers. This season Wratcher has a roster of 18 players.

"They are having a lot of fun," Wratcher said. "It is a little more relaxed and I think it helps."

When Wratcher played at Gateway, the Gators qualified for the postseason during his sophomore and senior years. Back then he wanted to carry over that momentum to the summer, this time he is hoping to reverse the momentum.

"I kind of feel like it is two separate seasons," Wratcher said. "High school baseball, as with most high school sports, is a little too much stress on the kids. Legion ball is a lot more relaxed, kids don't have to worry about school in the morning, you just go out and play baseball. …

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