Matthew McCartney recited his agenda for the coming months like a grocery list. Organize fall baseball leagues, meet with parents, watch as much travel baseball this summer as possible and quickly assemble a coaching staff.
It’s bound to be a hectic six months for McCartney, who was officially hired as Trinity’s head baseball coach at Thursday night’s school board meeting for a $4,245 salary. He joined the district last August as a learning support teacher and worked as both the junior varsity boys basketball coach and an assistant for the varsity team last winter.
“I am extremely excited,” McCartney said. “I am really looking forward to getting started. It’s still sinking in that I’m the head coach of Trinity. I’m very honored and looking forward to the challenge.”
When the job opened up just weeks ago with the resignation of Scott Henson, McCartney, a former pitcher at Seton Hill from 2005-09, seized the opportunity and quickly became the leading candidate for the post. Seven years of coaching experience, including two years as an assistant coach at his alma mater, made the difference.
“Matt quickly stood out as a standout candidate,” Trinity athletic director Bobby Jones said. “We felt very comfortable recommending him for the job. He’s a quality coach with outstanding credentials.”
McCartney has yet to make a decision if he’ll return to the basketball court this winter, especially with his newfound list of responsibilities, first and foremost of which is leading the Hillers back to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
The first step will be hiring an assistant coach with a strong background in hitting and watching his new players compete with travel teams this summer. That will help him plan Trinity’s identity on the baseball diamond.
After pitching at Baldwin High School, McCartney played four years at Seton Hill, which included a trip to the NAIA World Series as a freshman under head coach Marc Marizzaldi. He then became an assistant coach where he helped recruit and coach the Griffins’ pitching staff.
McCartney wants to revisit fundamentals with mental errors on the base paths and in the field resulting in several losses this spring for the Hillers.
“I think one thing that is very underrated in high school baseball is baserunning,” McCartney said. “We will be able to really emphasize pitching. Being a former college pitcher, I look forward to working closer with the pitchers. My top assistant I will be hiring will have to be someone who has very distinct knowledge in hitting.”
McCartney will attempt to resurrect the Hillers’ program, which made the playoffs only once in three seasons under former Henson. The Hillers upset No. 3 Hampton in the first round of the 2013 WPIAL Class AAA playoffs and fell to West Allegheny in the quarterfinals. Trinity will return five juniors and four seniors who got varsity experience last season. The Hillers have not won a WPIAL baseball title since 1941.
“This program definitely has potential to not only compete for a WPIAL title, but a state title,” McCartney said. “If we improve some of the weaknesses we do have, we could be a very good baseball team.”
New Trinity volleyball coach
Trinity’s school board also approved the hiring of a girls volleyball coach at Thursday’s meeting.
Caitlin Deep, a 2010 Trinity graduate and former standout middle hitter for the Hillers’ volleyball team, was officially hired for salary of $2,853.
Deep recently graduated from Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio.
South Fayette head baseball coach James Barton recently resigned from his position after six years with the Lions.
Barton was a four-year starter in center field for Clarion University from 1984-87 and was named a Division II All-American. He currently operates RBI Training Center.
According to South Fayette athletic director Mark Keener, the job will be posted internally before external options are considered.
Briggs to Bethany
Former Chartiers-Houston softball pitcher/outfielder Kayla Briggs, a three-time all-state selection, will join Bethany College’s softball program after taking a year off from the game.
Briggs will join Trinity senior outfielder Jasmine Fuqua and McGuffey senior pitcher Cassie Weiss with the Bison. The group played together with the Canonsburg Lady Knights, a travel softball team.
Briggs finished her high school career with a .512 batting average, 23 triples, 153 runs and 94 RBI at the plate with 390 strikeouts in 235.2 innings pitched. She won two WPIAL titles and a PIAA Championship.