South Hills finished 9-12-1 and in fifth place in the Federation League in 2013.
But this season, thanks to the return of the team's nucleus and some key additions, South Hills coach Kenny Morgan believes his team has the talent to compete for a league title.
"This may sound egotistical, but I believe we have the best team in the league," Morgan said. "The last few years, we've been in the conversation. But when all our guys are there and we put out our best lineup, I think we have the best team."
South Hills stood at 6-5 after a 7-0 loss to St. Johns-Lefty's Tuesday. The squad opened the season with back-to-back losses to Steel City and Allegheny Valley, but then rattled off five consecutive victories before losing to Bellevue and St. Johns last week.
Ethan Weiss (Seton-LaSalle/Wheeling Jesuit) has been the team's ace the past couple of years and is back again this season to lead the rotation. The difference this season is he has plenty of help.
Greg Schneider, a Thomas Jefferson alum, returns after missing the majority of last season with an injury. Their coach also went to work on the recruiting trail, adding former Washington & Jefferson hurlers David Trushel (Bethel Park) and Mike Vizzini (Gateway), as well as Seton Hill's Brad Schnelle (Moon). Schnelle went 6-4 for the Griffins this past year, helping them to a fifth-place finish in Division II.
"We had to keep up with the Jones's," Morgan said. "We had to keep on recruiting.
"The past couple of years, we've had one of the best pitchers in Ethan Weiss, but you can never have too much pitching. With the weather and having to play doubleheaders and 3-4 games a week sometimes, you need to have that depth. And I was fortunate to come across these guys and be able to add them to the team."
Morgan didn't just limit his recruiting to pitchers.
Jonathon Kletzli (Chartiers Valley) is in his first year with the team and is coming off a freshman season at Waynesburg University in which he led the Yellow Jackets in batting average (.383) and RBIs (37).
Another first-year player is Kyle Lucot, a speedy outfielder who is a South Park and Point Park alum.
They join a returning nucleus that features Matt Rossi (Gateway/Clarion), Lee Bodnar (Chartiers Valley/Point Park) and Sean Lubin (South Fayette/La Roche). Rossi, who was Morgan's roommate at Clarion, graduated in 2012 as the school's all-time leader in home runs and a two-time all-conference selection; Bodnar was a two-time All-American Mideast Conference pick at Point Park; and Lubin is coming off a season in which he hit .354 and scored a team-high 43 runs for La Roche.
"We have a lot of talent this year," Morgan said. "I think this is our most talented team."