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Westmoreland high school notebook: Cunningham picks La Roche baseball

August 8, 2018

As a three-sport standout, Tre Cunningham had a tough decision to make. What did he want to play at the next level?

Two parts luxury and one part dilemma, the determination ranked even higher than where he actually wanted to go.

The recent Jeannette graduate had interest for baseball, basketball and football but the Tribune-Review Athlete of the Year went with his favorite of the three sports and took the best offer on the table.

Cunningham committed to play baseball at La Roche. He said he also considered playing two sports at Clarion but opted for a baseball-only venture at Division III La Roche. He hopes to be a pitcher for the Redhawks but has experience as an infielder.

“I’m excited and ready to work,” said Cunningham, who also was the Tribune-Review’s basketball and baseball player of the year.

The 6-foot-3 Cunningham had a 1.91 ERA, struck out 43 and walked 11 as a go-to right-hander for the Jayhawks last baseball season. He hit .600 with 23 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

He averaged 18.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in basketball and was vital in several facets in football as a receiver, linebacker and kicker/punter.

He had 30 receptions for 466 yards and seven touchdowns and made 55 extra points and four field goals.

He won WPIAL baseball and football titles, and a PIAA football title, with his coaches in agreement they may not have won without Cunningham’s services and leadership.

Cunningham said he chose not to play two sports because he wants to play baseball beyond college.

“I have to be 100 percent committed if I want to continue playing,” he said.

Dancu to Seton Hill

Hempfield senior-to-be Tyler Dancu committed to Seton Hill to continue his baseball career. An infielder and pitcher, Dancu hit .360 with 17 runs scored, 10 RBIs and 11 steals in 21 games last season for the Spartans.

He had a 4.94 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 23 walks on the mound.

An offer from where?

Some have been wondering why local football scholarship offers have been coming in from random colleges, a few they had to Google to learn more about.

Elon, Holy Cross, Albany and Howard are examples with all four offering Westmoreland County players such as Latrobe’s Trent Holler, Norwin’s Gianni Rizzo and Marcus Barnes of Jeannette.

The reason is simple: There are local connections on coaching staffs that bridge gaps between schools and prospects.

Elon, located in North Carolina, features receivers coach Mike Shanahan, who also is the recruiting coordinator. Shanahan played at Norwin and Pitt. Former IUP coach Curt Cignetti is the head coach.

Anthony DiMichele, meantime, is the running backs coach at Holy Cross, where he played after leaving Sto-Rox. Former Duquesne coach Greg Gattuso is the head coach at Albany, and Howard features offensive coordinator Brennan Marion, a Greensburg Salem grad.

Youngstown State also likes this area and, past successes on the recruiting path notwithstanding, that could be a reflection of Carmen Bricillo, the offensive line coach who used to be an assistant in the WPIAL at Indiana High School.

Mayo’s honors

Incoming Hempfield senior Gavin Mayo will begin his final high school season as an All-American.

Mayo was selected to the All-America prep team by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association of America by virtue of his time in the 50-yard freestyle.

Mayo posted a mark of 20.73 seconds at the WPIAL finals last winter, which landed him second behind North Allegheny’s Mason Gonzalez. Mayo’s mark is the fourth-fastest in the event at the district meet.

He finished fourth at the PIAA championships with a time of 20.81.

Baseball showcase

Four on-the-rise baseball players from the area were selected for the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series, a scouting showcase offered by Team USA.

Norwin second baseman Alex Gabauer and Hempfield infielder/pitcher Phil Fox, incoming sophomores, incoming Penn-Trafford junior pitcher/first baseman Giovanni Scott and Hempfield rising junior infielder/pitcher Tyler Weiderstein will take part Aug. 15-19 in Cary, N.C.

All four play travel ball for Team Ohio 16-under.

Weiderstein is a Michigan recruit.

Players can move on to the regional level to compete against players from other areas, with the opportunity to advance to the NTIS Champions Cup in the fall.