Coach Stokes started coaching West Hempfield in 1998. West Hempfield won its first game 14-0 over Scottdale as Greg Randolph pitched a 3 hit shutout. The team however had a rough season going 4-16. The lone victories coming against Scottdale, West Point, and 2 wins against Fort Allen. Rick Merichko lead the team in hitting (.548), while Terry Riddle made large contributions hitting .522. Riddle not only had a fine season but he also made the Pennsylvania East/West All-Star Team.
In 1999, District 31 decided to merge the 3 Hempfield teams down to 2 teams. They combined West Hempfield, West Point, and Fort Allen to form Hempfield East & West Hempfield. The merge created a more competitive team and it showed quick results. The team came out of the gates with 3 wins against Scottdale, Hempfield East, & West Newton. In late June, the team won 6 out of 7 game in an 8 day span. Highlighted by a young 16 year old named Nate Roberts throwing a 3 hitter against then undefeated Armstrong Central. Armstrong Central was 15-0 at that time. The team finished the season 13-7 and qualifying for the playoffs for the 1st time under Coach Stokes. They lost both playoff games to a very good Murrysville team. The teams leading hitters where Rick Merichko .429 & Jeff Shola .438. Tim Buzzard lead the pitching staff with a record of 5-3 and an ERA of 3.48.
2000 was another successful season for West Hempfield winning its 1st Southern Division Championship. The team won 13 games and lost only 6. The team qualified for the District 31 Playoffs as the 3rd Seed. Tim Buzzard was again the ace of the staff, he went 4-5 with a 1.37 ERA. He struck out 83 batters in only 46 innings of work. Another pitching star of the 2000 team was Nate Roberts he was 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA. The leading hitters of the team were Buzzard hitting .465, Roberts .400, and Eric Floriani batting .397. The team lost in the playoffs to a very good Kiski team lead by Warren Schaeffer and Chris Minarcin.
Success continued in 2001 where the team won its second straight Southern Division Championship. The team went 16-8 and 9-2 in the Division clinching 3rd Seed in District 31 Tournament. The team won 9 out of their first 10 games. The team played a spirited and very competitive playoff series against eventual Region 7 Champion Murrysville. West Hempfield won game 1 as Steve Zemba hit a walk-off homerun in extra innings at Lint Field. The team then lost the next 2 games by 1 run. Scott Riddle lead the team with 7 mound victories and only 1 loss. Eric Floriani had a fabulous season batting .652 with 3 homeruns and 33 RBI's. Mike Welc hit .453 as the teams leadoff hitter and played a great centerfield. Dave Konopka also had a good season batting .395.
In 2002 a very young team took the field. The team battled all year going 8-11. For the 1st time since 1998 the team did not qualify for postseason play. Matt Dutkovich hit .450, leading the team. Tyler Anderson batted .439 and created havoc on the bases paths, stealing 16 bases. Paul Hayne had 3 victories for the team.
2003 was a rebuilding year with the team going 6-13 and not qualifying for the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. The highlight of the season was a 1-0 victory at Latrobe. Jon Jaquette mesmerized Latrobe with his knuckleball and also successfully executed a squeeze bunt for the only run. Jim Bradley was the ace of the staff and Steve Zemba was a major contributor on the mound. Dave Campbell lead the team in hitting, batting .377. Matt Dutkovich also batted .327 this season.
In 2004 the team got things turned around and qualified again for postseason play. The team had a regular season record of 11-9 and lost to Greensburg in the playoffs. The team went 7-5 in division games with 2 victories over Hempfield East, Yough, & Greensburg. Brandon Gnesda had a excellent season going 5-2 with 2.25 ERA. Scott Zemba also won 3 games in 2004. The team had awesome offensive attack. They had 7 players hit over .350: Matt Dutkovich (.415), Steven Dubich (.412), Mike Ferrara (.396), Dave Campbell (.386), Mike Harvat (.356), Zack Martin (.353), & Matt Roach (.350).
2005 was a great season. The team was a combination of young and older players and gelled very early in the season. Not only did the team win the Southeast Division Championship but also won the team's 1st District 31 Championship posting an overall record of 21-10. With their great regular season the team was the first seed in the District Playoffs. The District Championship was the 1st ever in Hempfield Township History. The team came out of the gates with 8 wins in their first 10 games. The highlights of their first 8 victories was a great 4-3 win against Hempfield East and beating a undefeated Latrobe team 5-1. During a tough stretch of games the team played 10 games in 11 days winning 8 of them. During that run of victories was a hard fought victory again against Hempfield East. The youngsters, Kyle McCullough, Dan Norris, & Bryan Morrison came up big and drove all 6 runs in the 6-5 win in extra innings. The team opened the playoff with a loss to Derry then came back and won the next 2 games. This was the first time under Coach Stokes that West Hempfield won a playoff series. The team moved on to the second round and swept Latrobe in two straight games. With the victory West Hempfield advanced to play a tough Arnold team. Arnold won game 1 by the score of 2-1. West Hempfield rebounded in Game 2 beating Arnold 6-2 with Steven Dubich pitching an outstanding game. Dubich pitched out of 2 bases loaded jams. In the deciding game 3, it took 2 extra innings to complete the game. Matt Roach pitched all 9 innings and went 4-5 in the contest. The team came back twice in the game to win 9-8. Mike Ferrara drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning. It was a joyous day in West Hempfield. Over 300 people witnessed this great game at Lint Field in West Hempfield. With the victory the team advanced to the Region 7 Tournament at State College. They eventually lost to two great teams from Bellefonte & Indiana. Brandon Gnesda had a combined record of 8-2 and Roach contributed 6 wins. The team batting leader was Zack Martin hitting .462 with 4 homeruns and 27 RBI's. Gnesda also batted .411 and drove in 32 runs. Mike Harvat was a stallworth behind the plate catching every inning of every game. With Harvat catching the opposition stole only 9 bases all season. Harvat also batted .373 and scored 27 runs. There were many contributions from many players on this team but a few amazing statistics from this team where turning 24 double plays and stealing 78 bases. This team was not only a great baseball team which, unbelievably, was comprised only of 12 players but they were the ultimate TEAM players. Thank you, Brandon Gnesda, Matt Roach, Paul Hayne, Jim Rodgers, Mike Ferrara, Mike Harvat, Zack Martin, Dan Norris, Kyle McCullough, Bryan Morrison, Steven Dubich, Zach Miller, Coach Tim Buzzard, & Coach Mark Roach. This was a season that will never be forgotten. Twelve players who loved and respected the game and each other. The 2005 team set the bar very high for those that follow.
happened again in 2006. The team was coming off a District 31
Championship in 2005. With a very young team, the team ended the
regular season winning 10 out of its last 12 games an going 12-7 on the
season. The team earned the 3rd Seed in South/East Division
Playoffs. West Hempfield went on to beat Hempfield East 2 games to 1
in the 1st round of the playoffs. There was some amazing baseball
played in the series. Game 1 was won by West Hempfield 2-1 behind
the strong pitching of Zack Martin. Game 2 went to Hempfield
East 13-2. But, the deciding game was won by West Hempfield 6-5. John
Veach-Dixon pitched on short rest and pitched outstanding. The
next series West Hempfield had to travel to Latrobe. West Hempfield
dropped the 1st Game 4-1. The highlights came in Game 2 when
Veach-Dixon hit a walk off grand slam to win the game 10-7. In
Game 3, West Hempfield pounded out 17 hits to win 13-7. With the win
the team advanced to the District Championship Series for the 2nd straight
season. The team lost the 1st 2 games, 10-1 in Game 1 and a hard
fought 13-11 in Game 2. The team again had no super stars they
played unselfish baseball all season. Veach-Dixon was the
pitching leader going 6-1 on the season and had a 3.99 ERA.
Martin picked up 4 mound wins including a 4 hit, 13 strikeout
performance at Latrobe in the regular season. Steve Dubich
also picked up 4 wins and pitched against many of the tough opponents.
Catcher Mike Harvat had an amazing season at the plate.
Harvat batted .382 and had an OB% of .535. Harvat drew 22 walks
and had 29 hits while batting in the lead off spot. Veach-Dixon
led the team in batting average hitting .431 and hit an amazing .480 in
the playoffs. Dubich was the teams clean-up hitter and shined
in the playoffs batting .414 and ended the season batting .394 while
playing a solid 1st Base. The team committed only 43 errors all
season. The infield leader was Dan Norris, he had a great
year at shortstop, making some amazing plays while batting .358.
Centerfielder Kyle McCullough had 6 assists while batting .348 and
had many big hits in crucial times for the team. Bryan Morrison
led the team with homeruns (4) and RBI's (23) and had only 3 errors all
season playing a great 3rd Base. Martin had a typical great
season hitting .359 and drove in 18 runs. Martin had to miss
the 1st 8 games because his High School Team (Greensburg Central Catholic) was competing in the WPIAL
Baseball Playoffs. (2B) Jason Battiston & (OF/1B) Jon
Murphy where also major contributors to the team. The team
consisted of many young role players including Kyle Anderson, Jeff
Cumming, Kyle McGinnis, Zach Miller, Steve Saunders, Eric Ferry, Zach
Cassa, & John Rouse. Thanks for playing your hearts out.