Cannon dealing with brief debut

May 20, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports

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MIDDLESEX TWP — D.J. Cannon can’t catch a break. So he decided to cut loose.

The Mars graduate and first-year Chatham University baseball coach — his season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic — decided to head to an empty, open field near his family’s home recently and work out his arm.

He is a former Planet pitcher and Seton Hill University pitching coach, after all.

“I just wanted to go out and throw, get some exercise,” Cannon said. “Get a feel for a baseball. It was nice and quiet. I could collect my thoughts.

“I miss the game. I come from a baseball family. I’m back home with them now. We all miss it.”

Cannon made his head coaching debut in odd fashion — Chatham dropping a 4-3 decision at Mount Aloysius with his younger brother, Doug, being the winning pitcher against him.

Then, a week before entering Presidents’ Athletic Conference play, the NCAA pulled the plug on the balance of the spring sports season.

“I’m just taking punches at every turn,” Cannon said, a chuckle in his voice.

The Cougars got off to a 2-10 start this season, dropping their last five and eight of their last nine games. But Cannon has plenty of reasons to be happy.

His sophomore catcher, Caleb Lehman, was hitting .357. A senior infielder, Justin Silvious, was hitting .353. He’s now allowed to return.

Chatham’s baseball program is only in its fourth season. The team was a combined 20-61 through its first three campaigns.

“Ten of the 33 players on our roster were seniors this year,” Cannon said. “We have three or four guys from that group who are making the effort to come back.”

While Cannon only got to coach 12 games this season, it was enough to get a taste of what being a head coach is all about.

“I’m used to just having to worry about a pitching staff,” he said. “Now I’m dealing with an entire roster. I had to schedule our spring trip, schedule things in general, organize practices, being in control of what happens at practice.

“Putting together a new team ... It was just a lot of fun coming to work every day.”

Cannon got to experience his first two wins as a head coach — 4-2 over Emerson and 7-6 over Widener.

And he’s building toward more.

“I’ve been able to work on recruiting more, learning more about the kids I’ve had on my list and finding new recruits to help round out the roster,” Cannon said.

And he’s submerged himself in baseball.

“I’ve been finding as many baseball resources out there as I can,” Cannon said.

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