O-R Athlete of the Week: Teagan Piechnick, Canon-McMillan
Name: Teagan Piechnick
Piechnick’s week: The Big Macs’ starting center fielder went 3-for-3 with two solo home runs April 7 in Canon-McMillan’s Section 5-AAAA win over Upper St. Clair and followed up the performance two days later against Mt. Lebanon by going 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Piechnick also earned the victory after entering the game as a pitcher in the sixth inning as Canon-McMillan won 15-14.
Streaking: No hitter has had a better start to the WPIAL baseball season than Piechnick. The senior had a streak of 10 consecutive hits. He had 16 plate appearances during the streak that included six walks, so he reached base 16 consecutive times over five games.
During the streak, Piechnick hit four home runs, three doubles and three singles. He had 12 runs and 10 RBI during that span, which ended Monday against Peters Township with a fly out to center field in his fourth at-bat. He is batting .633 (19-for-30) with an on-base percentage of .750. He has six home runs, 17 RBIs with 21 runs.
Piechnick never expected to turn into a power-hitting threat who pitchers dread facing, but that is exactly what has happened. After a junior season in which a shoulder injury slowed his progress, he is relieved to be swinging the bat again with success.
“It was frustrating,” Piechnick said of his injury. “I felt like I was letting the team down more than anything else. I’m surprised by how well I’m hitting, but at the same time, I was definitely working toward it.”
Never allowing the injury to slow him down, Piechnick focused on making adjustments to overcome the ailment. After a slow start at the plate, he hit three home runs in Canon-McMillan’s final six games of last season, including one in the Big Macs’ WPIAL Class AAAA playoff game against Hempfield in the quarterfinals.
“The time and effort the young man puts into his craft has shown,” Big Macs head coach Frank Zebrasky said. “He has a great work ethic. He studies the game. He is becoming more in tune with taking pitches and knowing certain counts. He knows he doesn’t have to go up there and just hack at the ball. He is doing a very nice job of being patient.”
Versatile: Piechnick was inserted into the starting lineup as a sophomore and immediately had success. Hitting streaks were difficult to come by, but facing the best pitching in the WPIAL made a difference. Each year, his strikeout totals have decreased while home runs and RBI have improved.
Forming a bond with his teammates during his long varsity stint has prepared Piechnick to take over as one of the Big Macs’ team captains this season, and his athleticism makes him one of the better defensive outfielders.
He played shortstop as a junior before finding his home in center field, but Piechnick also is one of Zebrasky’s best pitchers. Piechnick has thrown only six innings this season, but has a victory and allows the Big Macs to be selective with pitching matchups.
“I’ve been playing with these same guys for so many years,” Piechnick said. “I’ve seen the pitchers who are throwing, so I know what they are throwing and what they can do. It wasn’t until halfway through last year that I developed the power, and it feels good to be that guy now.”
Compiled by Lance Lysowski