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Vukovcan: Don’t Take For Granted What Hopewell HS Baseball Accomplished This Season



As a good friend of mine, Charlie Budavich, has said to me for years as our kids have grown up playing sports together in Hopewell, “Winning is Fun”.

There is no doubt about that however, there is a small downside to winning especially at the high school level and that’s the expectations that it creates.

Having a winning sports program like Hopewell currently has with baseball is great and no doubt fun but it’s not as easy to maintain as people may think.

The current run that Morgan Singletary’s program is on is really, really impressive.

Over the last 3 seasons, the Vikings High School baseball program has won 2 WPIAL Championships and won the consolation game to get 3rd place and make the PIAA tournament.

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Being able to accomplish something like that says a couple of things: 1) good players are being developed in Hopewell. 2) players are putting the time in get better. 3) Players are getting properly coached and developed to the point that that can win and compete for championships.

The question is how long can that sort of success realistically last? Won’t a season of rebuilding be needed?

It certainly looked as though this great run could come to an end as making the 2024 WPIAL playoff field was in doubt but a gutsy win over Ambridge in the final conference game allowed the Vikings to get a bid and an opportunity to defend their WPIAL Championship.

In all honesty, just making the playoffs this season is a TREMENDOUS accomplishment.

I’m not going to go as far as to say it was an upset that this team made the playoffs, but they surely weren’t favored at the start of the season to advance to this point.

I know people with that within that program aren’t looking at it like this, but I think any success that have in the playoffs is icing on the cake.

I say that and consider this a tremendous accomplishment because of what Hopewell lost and the inexperience they were counting on to lead them this season.

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It was going to be a huge challenge to try and replace the seniors that Hopewell graduated and that were such a huge part of their success the last couple years.

Despite losing their ace and Player of the Year winner Landon Fox, along with the top five batters in their championship batting lineup, Hopewell was able to finish 9-8, in what was a very competitive schedule.

Aside from John Vescio, Zach Gigliotti, Lucas Walton and Kingston Krotec, the large majority of this 2024 Hopewell lineup was facing big time varsity pitching for the first time in their career. That might seem like a minor thing, but it isn’t. Despite this challenge, this group of players met that challenge and although they struggled to consistently score runs at times, they got better and did enough to earn another playoff bid.

There is no doubt that all of these “newcomers” are talented and can rake the ball, it takes time to get accustomed to a higher level of pitching. It surely doesn’t happen overnight, and, in most cases, it takes a whole season. Former Pirates first round pick and No. 1 overall pick of the draft Henry Davis was just sent back to AAA after struggling to face major pitching for the first time. Will he eventually hit? Sure, but having struggles is normal and will take time.

This happens at all levels of baseball.

So, for this Hopewell team to be able to go through some offensive growing pains and STILL have the level of success that they were able to accomplish in 2024 is both impressive and a definite positive for the future.

Unlike last offseason, Coach Singletary’s roster isn’t going to be gutted by graduation and players like Krotec, Gigliotti, Ben McDonald, Charlie Smetana, Drew Donovan, Logan Triscila and James Gill will return, with a full season of hitting under their belts. If I was a betting man, my money would be on ALL OF THEM making huge jumps in 2025.

And when you factor in that arms such as ace David Medich, McDonald, Krotec, Jake Knobloch and Payton Korker will be back, and some other players on the roster that might be ready to contribute on a regular basis, this team has a chance to be good and won’t need to qualify for the playoffs on the last day.

My point in all of this is to enjoy and appreciate what was accomplished this season and regardless of what happens in the playoffs, let’s don’t look at this season as anything but positive and encouraging.

Hopewell Baseball is in a really good place right now, let’s all appreciate what’s going on because success like this doesn’t last forever.

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