Kling still intends to honor LSU scholarship
By Michael Boytim
UNIVERSITY PARK — Central senior Paxton Kling may hear his name during the early rounds of the Major League Baseball draft this July, but when asked following the Scarlet Dragons’ 13-2 victory over Lancaster Catholic in the PIAA Class 3A championship on Friday, he had a quick response to whether he would consider skipping college and turn professional.
“I’m going to LSU,” Kling said. “I’m excited to get down there and play for Coach (Jay) Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff down there. I can’t wait to see what Baton Rouge has in store for me.”
Kling was named the 2021-2022 Gatorade Pennsylvania Baseball Player of the Year earlier this month and is ranked as Pennsylvania’s top high school player according to Perfect Game and is the nation’s No. 7 prospect in the class of 2022 according to Prep Baseball Report.
A year ago, when Central and Tyrone played in the PIAA Class 3A semifinals, the local communities combined to set a PIAA record for a single baseball game when 2,433 tickets were sold at PNG Field.
The Scarlet Dragon faithful continued that support this season by helping to set a First Commonwealth Field record of 880 tickets sold in the PIAA semifinals and more than 1,000 people watched the game on Punxsutawney’s YouTube channel.
Friday, the numbers were even bigger.
Mark Byers, the PIAA’s Chief Operating Officer, said 3,519 tickets were sold for the three contests played at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday, and he estimated the majority of them were for Central’s game.
“It means more than anything,” Central senior Jonah Snowberger said. “I pulled out of my driveway this morning, and there were signs across the yard about us. There’s an old saying that the last one out of the Cove should turn the light off, and I think that’s so true for us. We had the whole community here supporting us.”
Philipsburg-Osceola student Ben Coudriet sang the national anthem before the game. Coudriet also sang before the PIAA wrestling championships earlier this year.
Slogik wins title
Nick Slogik, who grew up playing youth baseball in Altoona, won a PIAA Class 6A title with Warwick High School on Thursday and had an RBI single in the first inning of Warwick’s 6-4 win over Liberty.
“Our team is a team that builds on momentum, so that first run for us was pretty huge,” Slogik said. “It made us play really hard the rest of the game. It got us locked in, and it showed we were there playing to win.”
The sophomore hit a go-ahead three-run home run in an 8-7 win against Hatboro Horsham in the first round of the state playoffs.
“I was in a little bit of a slump going into that game, and I had a rough first three at bats,” Slogik said. “Seeing the guys in front of me get on base gave me some momentum. I wasn’t trying to hit a home run, I was just trying to find a way to get the runners in, and I got a good swing.”
Slogik’s aunt, Tracey Slogik-Biesecker, is a member of the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame.
“It feels incredible to be a state champion,” Slogik said. “It’s what I have been dreaming about since I was a kid. It’s what all the 6 a.m. lifts, running and batting practice was for. I worked for this, and it’s such a relief to know it paid off.”