Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Butler Grad Fennell Flips over Psac West Honors

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Butler Grad Fennell Flips over Psac West Honors

Article excerpt

Before each conference home game this season, California University of Pennsylvania standout Mick Fennell would channel his inner-Ozzie Smith. The Butler High graduate performed a scintillating cartwheel-to-backflip routine before sprinting to his center-field position.

Gleaned from videos of Smith, the former St. Louis Cardinals star, Fennell mesmerized teammates.

"To see how athletic he is and to see all the energy he brings, it got us going right away," said utility man Danny McGrath, a second-team Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference pick and a Franklin Regional grad. "He can do a flip on command; it's amazing. He has a way of setting the tone for everybody around here."

A tone-setter and team leader, Fennell will be remembered as an all-time Cal great. He completed his stellar career this past Monday when the Vulcans were eliminated from the PSAC tournament.

"Everyone comes to school here saying, 'I want to be like Mick Fennell,'" McGrath said.

On May 5, Fennell was named the PSAC West Athlete of the Year for baseball. The honor coincided with his third consecutive selection to the All-PSAC West team, the past two on the first team.

"It means a lot to me, honestly," Fennell said of the player of the year honor. "Going into this year, that was one of my goals. To chase after it and to achieve it is pretty special."

Special. That would be an accurate assessment of Fennell's all-out, all-the-time playing style. The senior leadoff hitter built a reputation for aggressively attacking the basepaths and for making highlight-worthy diving catches. He also went 5-1, including a save, as a pitcher this season.

Coach Mike Conte said Fennell played every game like it was Game 7 of the World Series.

"The quintessential baseball player," Conte said.

Fennell helped Cal to a 26-22 overall record and a fourth-place finish in the PSAC West. The team averaged 28 wins during his career.

Fennell led the Vulcans in batting average (.385), homers (8), runs (57), triples (7) and steals (22). He also struck out only eight times in 201 plate appearances, 3.98 percent per at-bat, and did not commit an error. …

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