Former Hopewell and Current Pitt Shortstop Anthony LaSala Shines on Diamond in First Season
Former Hopewell and now Pitt infielder Anthony LaSala is making strides in his first season with the program in 2023.
LaSala has played in 34 games this season and started the past 15 games at shortstop as a first-year. He has demonstrated his fielding abilities throughout, making only three errors in 118 total chances for a .975 fielding percentage, fourth best on the team. His 44 putouts rank eighth and his 71 assists are third best for Pitt as well.
Baseball has always been a part of life for LaSala, particularly from a young age. LaSala’s grandfather had success in baseball and he passed it down to Anthony, who started out at just three years old and continued to play throughout his youth.
He played for Hopewell High School in Aliquippa, Pa. in nearby Beaver County. He starred for the Vikings, helping them to a WPIAL AAA runner-up finish in 2019 as a freshman and a WPIAL AAA Championship in 2021 as a junior. He hit .343 as a junior and then .382 as a senior in 2022, earning all-section honors in both seasons.
LaSala enjoyed his time at Hopewell, as he grew with the sport and learned how to win with the successful program.
“It’s just a great tradition with that program and they always win,” LaSala said. “To be able to win all the section championships I did and then being able to win a WPIAL title was pretty cool and it’s nice to have our numbers up on the board that came through that program.”
Joining Pitt came as an easy decision for LaSala. While other schools tried to get his interest, once the “hometown” team came through with the scholarship, he accepted it soon after.
LaSala has family already in the Pitt Athletics department. His father is Chris LaSala, who is associate athletic director for football administration and has been so since 2016. He also served as assistant athletic director from 2000-15 and director of football operations from 1997-2015, making it 27 seasons at Pitt so far.
“Relationship hasn’t changed, it’s been the same,” Anthony LaSala said on he and his father’s relationship since he started playing for Pitt. “Just growing up with Pitt being in our family, I’ve been able to learn the way and he’s been able to teach me the stuff. I think it’s pretty cool now that I’m able to be a part of this program.”
Add another one ☝️
LaSala knocks in Acal to extend our lead to 6-3 in the top of the seventh!#H2P pic.twitter.com/VMTVtd3PhE
— Pitt Baseball (@Pitt_BASE) April 16, 2023
LaSala started the first seven games this season playing at second baseman, before junior infielder Justin Acal assumed the spot. He didn’t play for about a month, then eventually started to see more time at shortstop.
Sophomore infielder Tommy Tavarez, who had been starting at shortstop, failed to produce at the plate, as he hit .182 and did not have a single hit in his last seven games. He also struggled with his fielding, with 10 errors in 86 total chances, and also suffered an injury that has kept him from playing the last 11 games, dating back to the middle of April.
LaSala is trying to get accustomed to ACC pitching, hitting .158, but his great fielding ability at shortstop has kept him in the starting lineup. He averages one error for 39.3 chances and has made some incredible plays this year, including last Friday against Georgia Tech.
Anthony LaSala! Get yourself some!
E2 | Georgia Tech 2, Pitt 1#H2P | @A_LaSala6 pic.twitter.com/xI994KWv1d
— Pitt Baseball (@Pitt_BASE) May 5, 2023
LaSala continues to work every day on his approach at the plate and has learned a great deal so far in his first season playing college baseball.
“Just the speed of the game,” LaSala said on adjusting to college baseball. “You’ve got to be on your toes because one mistake can flip the whole game. Just learning how to acclimate to this style and level was a big challenge for me, but now it’s just normal.”
Coming from Hopewell, LaSala joins a number of Panthers who played high school baseball in the WPIAL. This includes junior outfielder Dom Popa (Seton-LaSalle), first-year infielder Drew Ripepi (Peters Township), sophomore catcher Luke Lambert (West Allegheny), senior designated hitter Jack Anderson (Mars), graduate pitcher Nash Bryan (Butler) and sophomore pitcher Kyle Demi and graduate infielder Brett Heckert (North Allegheny).
LaSala takes pride in playing in the WPIAL and credits his teammates for showing how successful players from Western Pa. are when it comes to baseball. He also said that there is great camaraderie within the team and that everyone is close with each other.
Pitt hasn’t had the greatest of seasons in 2023, with an overall record of 21-25 and an ACC record of 9-13, last in the ACC Coastal division and third worst in the conference. They only have a series at home this weekend against No. 11 Miami, a game at PNC Park against rival Penn State next Tuesday, May 16, and then a series on the road against NC State next weekend to close out the regular season.
LaSala isn’t deterred with the Panthers so far and believes that he and his teammates have the ability to turn it around. He said that a series win on the road against Virginia and taking a game off No. 1 Wake Forest on the road demonstrates the greatness this team possesses.
Pitt did win their Pool in the ACC Tournament last season, making it to the Semifinals and still have an opportunity to do so this season and reach even beyond that, according to LaSala.
“I just hope to achieve our goals,” LaSala said. “ACC Championship, Regionals, Super Regionals and Omaha. I think if we keep going, we have a good chance to accomplish that.”
Great glove but can he hit? Whats his batting avg?