Friday, May 30, 2008

PIAA baseball, softball sites

Sites and times for the four local baseball and one local softball teams are set. All games are Monday, June 2.

Class AAAA baseball
Peters Township (18-6) vs. Erie McDowell at North Allegheny High School, 4 p.m. Peters Township is the WPIAL champion. Erie McDowell won District 10.
Canon-McMillan (18-4) vs. Allderdice (12-5) at Shaler High School, 4 p.m. Canon-Mac is the third-place team from the WPIAL. Allderdice won the City League.

Class AAA baseball
Trinity (16-7) vs. Punxsutawney at Brockway High School, 4 p.m. Trinity is the WPIAL runner-up. Punxsutawney won District 9.

Class A baseball
Carmichaels (20-1) vs. Keystone at the Burkett Complex, Robinson Township, 4:30 p.m. Carmichaels is the WPIAL champion. Keystone is the third-place team from District 9.

Class AA softball
Washington vs. Villa Maria at Penn State-Behrend, Erie, 1:30 p.m. Washington is the third-place team from the WPIAL. Villa Maria won District 10.

Of note: If Peters Township and Canon-McMillan both win, it sets up a quarterfinal contest between the two.

Also of note, there's a chance Trinity can play my alma mater (Somerset) in the semifinals. Of course, my alma mater would have to beat West Allegheny in the quarterfinals and that would be a significant upset.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

PT lax WPIAL champs

A day after Peters Township baseball repeated as WPIAL Class AAAA champions, the Peters Township girls lacrosse team won its second-straight WPIAL title with a 10-5 victory over Mt. Lebanon at Martorelli Stadium.

For the first time in my life, I watched and covered a lacrosse match. It was an interesting experience.

Since Saturday, PT has won a state doubles tennis title and two WPIAL team titles.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pt-Plum baseball

The Peters Township-Plum WPIAL Class AAAA championship is about to begin. Again, I hope to provide a few live updates.

WPIAL baseball, Day 2

Back at Consol Energy for the WPIAL Class A baseball championship between Carmichaels and Rochester as well as the Class AAAA tilt between Peters Township and Plum.

As long as the Internet cooperates, I'll be updating live.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

WPIAL baseball

Here at Falconi, er, Consol Energy Park for Tuesday's WPIAL Class AAA championship between Trinity and West Allegheny.

The Internet is working so look for in-game updates.

Right now, Beaver leads Bishop Canevin, 4-3, heading into the bottom of the sixth in the Class AA title game.

Monday, May 26, 2008

J.J. gets the call

Last year, Nick Merich pitched Peters Township to the WPIAL Class AAAA championship. Merich is still a key component of the Indians' rotation but head coach Joe Maize will start Jordan Jankowski on the mound Wednesday night against Plum.

In addition to being a prolific power hitter, Jankowski is 5-0 with 1.00 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 35 innings. He's pitched complete games in each of his four starts with two shutouts.

He pitched a shutout in the quarterfinals against Seneca Valley.

Trinity starting lineup

Trinity baseball coach Levi Bristor gave me his likely lineup for Tuesday's WPIAL Class AAA championship against West Allegheny.

In order:
Graham Cowieson, LF
Sean McKnight, SS
Joey Havrilak, RF
Evan Bukowski, C
Alex Kazmierczak, DH
Alex Frey, CF
Tyler Schrader, P
Dustin Norris, 3B
Preston Linck, 2b

Of note, Schrader gets the starting pitching nod over Alex Frey. Hard to argue there. Frey will start in centerfield and Havrilak will move to right, where Kazmierczak started the previous three playoff games. DH Buck Gnagey will not be in the starting lineup.

Bristor said Frey is an exceptional centerfielder and that, with the game being at Consol Energy Park, "We do know how big that ball park is and with Alex Frey, Graham Cowieson and Joey Havrilak, we have the fastest outfield we could possibly have out there."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

PIAA track thoughts

Spent Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University for the PIAA Track and Field Championship - my 11th consecutive year at the event split between a couple papers - and I came away wondering what's happened to track in Washington and Greene Counties.

Only three athletes won medals. Canon-McMillan seniors Kyle Gibson (Class AAA 3,200 run) and Zane Zebrasky (Javelin) each took 5th place in their respective events and both performed admirably. Also, Bentworth junior Amanda Kennedy (Class AA javelin) won an eighth place medal.

Overall, it's been two consecutive bad years locally at state track. Really bad.

So what's going on? Anyone have any ideas?

I know some teams are struggling with numbers and others had to remove promising athletes from their teams due to various problems. Still, only three medals?

One positive is that many of the local competitors at this year's meet were underclassmen. Maybe the down cycle is coming to an end.


Remember when NHL fans chanted "1940" at the New York Rangers before Mark Messier led them to a Stanley Cup in the mid-90s?

Well, WPIAL baseball fans could have been chanting "1941" at the Trinity baseball team for years.

Thanks to several e-mails, it's been confirmed the last time Trinity played for a WPIAL baseball championship was 1941 - a span of 67 years. The Hillers went back-to-back in 1940 and 41.

This Tuesday, Trinity can snap the 67-year championship drought if it beats West Allegheny in the Class AAA final at Consol Energy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hillers history

Trinity advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA baseball championship with a 1-0 victory over Moon today at the Burkett Complex, my home away from home.

Alex Frey pitched a two-hit shutout. Frey and Tyler Schrader have pitched 20 consecutive scoreless innings for the Hillers, who have not allowed a run since the first inning of the first round and now own shutouts over the No. 2 (Hampton) and No. 3 (Moon) seeds in the bracket.

Talked to a few Trinity people before and after the game. No one is certain on when Trinity last played for a WPIAL championship. A couple people believe it happened in the 1950s, others say the 1940s. Let's just say record keeping in the small-revenue WPIAL sports wasn't very strong before the Internet.

If anyone has this information, please share with the Varsity Letters.

Congratulations to Carmichaels, which advanced to the WPIAL Class A championship again with a 7-3 win over No. 2 seed Serra Catholic. This marks the Mikes third title game appearance since 2004. In a classification where private schools have an advantage, Carmichaels consistently wins.

And congratulations to Peters Township, which defeated North Allegheny 4-3 to earn a second straight appearance in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game. Defending a baseball championship is one of the toughest things to do in high school sports. The Indians will if they defeat Plum next week.

What these eyes have seen...

I've taken in a ridiculous amount of high school baseball the past week and there have been a few snoozers along with an incredible number of insane moments. Before I roll over to Trinity's WPIAL Class AAA semifinal against Moon, it's time for a quick recap.

1. I seriously doubt anyone attending Tuesday's WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals between Canon-McMillan and Shaler will ever see an ending like that again. Not sure exactly how to score the double-rundown double play the Big Macs recorded to end the game and secure a well-played 1-0 victory. I think it went something like 1-5-2-5-2-5-4-6-5.

Much credit deserved for the C-M defense which did not commit an error and kept their composure during such a critical situation.

The win, however, belongs to the pitching of Chris Dittmar and Chris Douglas. They were both outstanding.

2. I also doubt I'll see a two-run game-winning sacrifice fly any time soon but I did see one when Rochester beat Chartiers-Houston, 6-4, in the Class A quarterfinals. Tough not to feel sorry for the Bucs to lose on such a freak play.

3. It's highly unlikely I'll see Carmichaels ace Joby Lapkowicz surrender another three-run inning like he did during the Mikes' 5-4 win over Vincentian following the Rochy-CH game. Said it before and I'll say it again, Lapkowicz would be the number one pitcher at most schools in Western Pennsylvania.

He gave up two earned runs all year before giving up three in the first to the Royals.

4. Trinity's Tyler Schrader may gain early entry into the new Trinity Sports Hall of Fame if he keeps pitching like he has this postseason.

5. And, finally, has anyone else noticed Peters Township is on a roll? It's amazing how the Indians get it done in the postseason.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Good thing we brought a second javelin"

The Associated Press sports wire often has interesting, scary and/or funny stories. One that moved today has parts that fit each of those categories.

During the Utah state high school track and field championships Monday, a photographer named Ryan McGeeney of the Standard-Examiner apparently wandered into an off-limits zone while taking pictures of the discus event. The zone he wandered into was marked off for the javelin.

You might be able to guess what happened next.

Yep. A javelin thrown by Anthony Miles, of Provo High, speared McGeeney in the leg, below the knee. Fortunately the javelin did not hit any blood vessels, nerves or ligaments, but the tip went through the leg and the javelin had to be cut off at the scene. McGeeney, a 33-year old ex-Marine who spent six months in Afghanistan, required 13 stitches. He even managed to snap a picture of his leg ("If I didn't, it would probably be my editor's first question when I got back," he said.)

Now here's the funny part. Miles' coach, Richard Vance, had this to say: "One of the first things that came to my mind was, 'Good thing we brought a second javelin.'"

Miles ended up winning the javelin. But on a subsequent throw, not the speared one.

PT, CM sites set

The Peters Township and Canon-McMillan baseball quarterfinals sites have been determined. At least the Indians know who they're playing as of Monday morning.

No. 1 Seneca Valley (17-2) vs. No. 8 Peters Township (15-6) at North Allegheny, Tuesday at 4 p.m.

No. 3 Canon-McMillan (16-4) vs. Shaler/Gateway winner at the Burkett Complex, Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The SV-PT game is shaping up to be epic considering the way the Indians are hitting of late. SV pitcher Cory Mazzoni is one of the best and there's no way he'll be saved for the next round. The game is a coin flip but I'm leaning toward Peters Township advancing.

Also, I expect the Big Macs to move into the semifinals regardless of opponent.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Long wait

Due to inclement weather, the Canon-McMillan baseball team will not know its WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal opponent until Monday evening.

Saturday's first-round game between Shaler and Gateway, originally scheduled for Friday, was postponed in the second inning of a scoreless game. The contest resumes Monday afternoon at Washington & Jefferson's Ross Memorial Park at 4 p.m.

The Big Macs play the winner Tuesday with a site and time to be determined.

Sites and times were released for some of the other quarterfinals and there will be a local tripleheader at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township.

In Class A, Chartiers-Houston plays Rochester at 2 p.m., followed by Carmichaels versus Vincentian Academy at 4 p.m. Class AAA Trinity caps the action with its game against Hampton, which is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Hillers look impressive

Took in three long WPIAL baseball playoff games Friday at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township and I came away with some distinct impressions.

1. Trinity can beat Hampton in the quarterfinals.
Pitcher Tyler Schrader was incredibly impressive in relief of Alex Frey against Chartiers Valley. Schrader entered the game with the bases loaded on no outs in the bottom of the third as Trinity nursed a 4-2 lead. Schrader struck out the first two batters then induced a ground ball to get out of the inning without allowing a run. Game over.

Kudos go the Hillers defense for turning two much-needed double plays and making several other big plays.

Also, cathcer Evan Bukowski played with a fever and still went 2-for-4 with two key RBI and a run scored. That's the type of effort which makes playoff runs possible.

2. Rochester lefty J.C. Figueiredo can pitch.
The lanky, 6-4 fireballer was nearly unhittable against a strong Jefferson-Morgan lineup. He struck out 15 in six innings and, if games are spread out enough, Rochester could be a very difficult out in the Class A bracket. Figueiredo not only has the best curveball I've seen from a high schooler this year, he'll throw it on a 3-2 count with runners in scoring position.

Chartiers-Houston is up next for Rochester and the guess here is Figueiredo won't allow just one hit but I also don't expect the Bucs to put up double digits.

3. Union's Markus Allen is a potential prospect.
I had the fortune of sitting beside a Pittsburgh Pirates scout during the Class A first round game between Union and Avella and the scout loves Union centerfielder Markus Allen.

A solidly built left-hander hitter, Allen is aggressive and possesses good bat speed. Every time Allen batted, the scout immediately came to attention.

I asked the scout if he believed any WPIAL players could be drafted and he told me it's possible but not a certainty. He also said the four guys who stand out in the district are Union's Allen, Jordan "Chocolate Truffles" Jankowski, Zak Sinclair of West Allegheny and Seneca Valley's Cory Mazzoni. The scout also said he believes Jankowski is the best hitting prospect in the WPIAL.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Response to comment

A Varsity Letters blogger named Ronnie asked if I could designate some standouts from the local 2008 WPIAL baseball season. I'll try my best.

Player of the Year
I'm leaning toward Jordan Jankowski of Peters Township but Andy Petras of Chartiers-Houston is having a great year.

Coach of the Year
I know there's a lot of poo-pooing the smaller classifications on this board but no coach has his players more prepared than Dave Bates at Carmichaels. You have to beat the Mikes to beat them. They never lose games because of mistakes and that is a direct attribute of coaching.

Comeback Player of the Year
Charles Murphy of Canon-McMillan. Big Macs coach Steve Bucci credits Murphy, who did not play his junior year, as a key component to the section championship.

Game of the Year
I hope the game of the year comes in the postseason. As for the regular season:
Avella 7, Chartiers-Houston 6 on Wednesday, May 7
The Eagles lost to the Section 2-A champions on back-to-back days by a combined score of 17-4. In the regular season finale, playoff-bound Avella kept Chartiers-Houston from an unbeaten record in section play.

Pitcher of the Year
Another category with many worthy candidates but I have to go with Carmichaels junior lefty Joby Lapkowicz. Every time I see this kid pitch, it's a treat and I believe he'd be the No. 1 guy at most high schools in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania.

Zebrasky, Courter golden at WPIAL meet

The WPIAL Class AAA Track and Field Championships took place Thursday at Baldwin High School and local athletes were well-represented on the medals stand.

Canon-McMillan senior Zane Zebrasky won the boys javelin with a WPIAL championship meet record throw of 201-8. He had the top two throws of the competition and was the only male competitor to establish a WPIAL record at the meet.

Folks, any time someone hits 200-0 at the high school level, it's a serious throw.

Peters Township senior Matt Courter won the 110 high hurdles with a blistering time of 14.73.

The gold medals were the first for both Zebrasky and Courter. Neither qualified for last year's PIAA Championships but both enter next weekend's meet as top contenders in their events.

For Zebrasky, the win proved particularly poignant. Close family friend and O-R sports writer James Montecalvo is hospitalized.

"I called Coach (Guy) Montecalvo right after I won and I got to talk to (Jim)," Zebrasky said. "I just told him I'm praying for him every day. He gave me a lot of motivation for the meet. I came in here wanting to do it for myself but I also wanted to do it for Jim."

Well said Zane.

Zebrasky and Courter were two of 15 local athletes who qualified for the state meet, which takes place Friday, May 23 and Saturday, May 24 at Shippensburg University.

Other Canon-McMillan qualifiers were Julian Rankin (1,600), Kyle Gibson (3,200), Jeravin Matthews (400, long jump), Brittany Taylor (high jump) and the 400 relay team of Libby Guyton, Natasha Williams, Taylor Parisse and Stephanie Austin.

Other Peters Township qualifiers were Christian Brandstetter (800, 1,600 relay), Megan Hahn (100 hurdles), Andy Blandino (1,600 relay) and Hunter Braden (1,600 relay). Courter also qualified as part of the relay team.

Trinity's Joe Marquis placed fourth in the triple jump to secure his spot in Shippensburg.

Wash High baseball ousted

Center, the seventh seed in Class AA, eliminates Wash High, 7-4.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Guess who's back?

Greetings bloggers, I've returned from my honeymoon in lovely, warm and rainless Cabo San Lucas. Much to my surprise, Joe Tuscano and Kevin Jacobsen did a decent job keeping everyone informed and entertained.

Attention tracksters:
I return to the oval Thursday for the WPIAL Class AAA championships at Baldwin High School.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gold medal efforts

Three first-place finishes for the Washington-Greene County area in the WPIAL Class AA Track Championships Tuesday. Bentworth's 1,600-meter relay team of Colton Korpus, Anthony Zigerelli, Chase Hubell and Chad Hubbell turned in a personal-best 3:29.6. The most interesting part is that this foursome has been together for two races: this one and the Southern Qualifier, where they also took first.

Amanda Kennedy, a junior at Bentworth, won the javelin with a throw of 127-2. And Waynesburg's Nick Patton, whose strongest event is the pole vault, captured the javelin with a 175-3.

Sean Deschamps of McGuffey qualified in both hurdles and Jefferson-Morgan's Hans Lubich took second in the high jump.

Playoffs begin

Washington (Class AA) and Trinity (Quad-A) are the only local schools to advance from the first day of the WPIAL softball playoffs, the Prexies with a convincing 17-5 win over Brentwood and the Hillers eliminating McKeesport 9-0.

Beth-Center and Peters Township both lose 2-0, to Greensburg Central Catholic and North Hills, respectively, and Sto-Rox ousted Burgettstown, 7-1.

Some highlights from the tripleheader I saw: Morgan Meadows pitched great for Peters Township, giving up just four singles and not walking anyone. I think the Indians will be fine without Shaylee Ianno. In fact, they played pretty well without her this year.

Burgettstown shortstop Jessie Faloon went 3-4 and played great defense.

Pretty much everyone from Wash High, who killed the ball starting in the fourth inning. Apparently they needed to see the Brentwood pitcher once through the lineup before getting to her. Six players had at least two hits; the top three in the batting order (Alexis Lopez, Jordan Jackson, Jenna Phillips) each scored three times; Chelsea Evans had three runs and stole three bases as a courtesy runner for catcher Liz Bombara, who needed a home run for the cycle; Lopez had three RBI, Bombara drove in two, Larissa Bistarkey and Jessica Ketter had four each. Pitcher Ashley Sadler made a few mistakes, giving up three home runs but was also overpowering at other times.

Class AAA and A begin Wednesday, weather permitting.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Food for thought

Tuscano – Normally, I would not attempt to denegrate the work of volunteers. But anyone who made the trip to West Mifflin for the WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament had to be, ahem, impressed by the concession stand operation. I am not overstating this fact: The concession stand at West Mifflin was the most inept and disorganized in my 28-year history of covering any scholastic sport.

It took 35 minutes – yes, I timed it – to secure two hot dogs, with chili, and a candy bar. The concession stand had two lines, one simply to order the food on a tear-off menu, the other to wait in with the menu in hand to give it to someone who would fill your order. The line, as you might have guessed, stretched 63 feet or 21 yards – yes, I walked it off.

That type of poor organizing simply has to be recognized.

Big Day for Big Macs

Tuscano – Winning the first WPIAL Team Title not affiliated with wrestling shows what a difference numbers can make. That's enrollment numbers. Only two schools are gaining enrollment in Washington County: Peters Township and Canon-McMillan. That fact should not be lost on the track program at C-M or any of the other athletic programs enjoying success. Baseball, basketball, and football have gotten better over the past few years and one of the major reason why is the increased number of athletes to choose from. The track program traditionally has been strong but considering the Big Macs beat Baldwin, North Allegheny and Butler in the team tournament is impressive.

WPIAL baseball pairings released

Here are pairings for the first round of the WPIAL baseball playoffs, released Friday:

Class AAAA
All games Friday, May 16
No. 1 Seneca Valley, No. 2 Plum, No. 3 Canon-McMillan receive byes
No. 4 Central Catholic vs. No. 13 Bethel Park, at Burkett Complex, 7 p.m.; No. 5 Hempfield vs. No. 12 North Allegheny at Gateway, 7 p.m.; No. 6 Shaler vs. No. 11 Gateway at North Allegheny, 4 p.m.; No. 7 Franklin Regional vs. No. 10 Butler at Herb Field, 3 p.m.; No. 8 Peters Township vs. No. 9 Latrobe at California University, 4 p.m.
Top three qualify for PIAAs

Class AAA
All games Friday, May 16
No. 1 West Allegheny, No. 2 Hampton, No. 3 Moon, No. 4 West Mifflin receive byes
No. 5 Blackhawk vs. No. 12 Derry at Gateway, 2 p.m.; No. 6 Greensburg Salem vs. No. 11 New Castle at Gateway, 4 p.m.; No. 7 Trinity vs. No. 10 Chartiers Valley at Burkett, 4 p.m.; No. 8 Laurel Highlands vs. No. 9 Steel Valley at Mt. Pleasant, 4 p.m.
Top three reach PIAAs

Class AA
Play-in games Tuesday, May 13: Valley vs. Southmoreland at Mt. Pleasant, 4 p.m.; Riverview vs. New Brighton at Seneca Valley, 2 p.m.; South Fayette vs. Riverside at Seneca Valley, 4 p.m.
First round games Thursday, May 15
No. 1 Seton-La Salle vs. Southmoreland-Valley winner at Burkett, 5 p.m.; No. 2 Burrel vs. Riverview-New Brighton winner at Shaler, 4 p.m.; No. 3 Beaver vs. South Fayette-Riverside winner at Chippewa Park, 4 p.m.; No. 4 Neshannock vs. No. 13 Bishop Canevin at Chippewa Park, 2 p.m.; No. 5 Greensburg CC vs. No. 12 Brownsville at Cal U, 4 p.m.; No. 6 Charleroi vs. No. 11 Mohawk at Highlands, 4 p.m.; No. 7 Center vs. No. 10 Washington at Burkett, 3 p.m.; No. 8 Shadyside Academy vs. No. 9 Ford City at Highlands, 6 p.m.
Top four reach PIAAs

Class A
First round games Friday, May 16
No. 1 Springdale, No. 2 Serra, No. 3 Carmichaels, No. 4 Chartiers-Houston receive byes
No. 5 Rochester vs. No. 12 Jefferson-Morgan at Burkett, 11 a.m.; No. 6 Monaca vs. No. 11 Vincentian at Herb Field, 1 p.m.; No. 7 Geibel vs. No. 10 Cornell at Cal U, 2 p.m.; No. 8 Avella vs. No. 9 Union at Burkett, 2 p.m.
Top three reach PIAAs

Blue and Golden

Congratulations to the Canon-McMillan boys track team, which defeated section nemesis Baldwin, North Allegheny and defending champion Butler to take the WPIAL Class AAA championship Thursday. Jeravin Matthews, Teddy Mathis, Chris McClellan and Sonny Billingsley won the 1,600 relay to earn the championship.

I wasn't at the meet, so I'll let Tuscano chime in with any thoughts he may have from his day at West Mifflin.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

WPIAL Softball pairings released

Here are seedings and first-round matchups for the WPIAL softball playoffs:

Class AAAA
Five first-round games, all Tuesday, May 13.
No. 1 Latrobe, No. 2 Seneca Valley, No. 3 Shaler receive byes. No. 4 Mt. Lebanon vs. No. 13 Gateway, at Shaler, 5 p.m.; No. 5 North Hills vs. No. 12 Peters Township, at Fairhaven Park, 3 p.m.; No. 6 Trinity vs. No. 11 McKeesport, at California University at 5 p.m., No. 7 Kiski vs. No. 10 Hempfield, at Gateway, 5 p.m.; No. 8 North Allegheny vs. No. 9 Connellsville, at Gateway, 3 p.m.
Only the finalists qualify for the PIAA tournament.

Class AAA
All games Wednesday, May 14.
No. 1 Ellwood City bye; No. 2 Waynesburg vs. No. 15 Kittanning, at California University, 5 p.m.; No. 3 Keystone Oaks vs. No. 14 Indiana, at Gateway, 3 p.m.; No. 4 Knoch vs. No. 13 Ambridge, at Seneca Valley, 5 p.m.; No. 5 Elizabeth Forward vs. No. 12 Greensburg Salem, at Cal U, 3 p.m.; No. 6 Yough vs. No. 11 Belle Vernon, at Cal U, 7 p.m.; No. 7 Montour vs. No. 10 New Castle, at Seneca Valley, 3 p.m.; No. 8 Franklin Regional vs. No. 9 Chartiers Valley, at Gateway, 5 p.m.
Top three reach PIAAs

Class AA
Two play-in games Saturday, May 10 at North Allegheny: Laurel vs. Center, 3 p.m.; Ford City vs. Burrell, 5 p.m.
All first-round games Tuesday, May 13
No. 1 Riverside vs. Ford City-Burrell, at North Allegheny, 3 p.m.; No. 2 South Allegheny vs. Laurel-Center, at North Allegheny, 5 p.m.; No. 3 Sto-Rox vs. No. 14 Burgettstown, at Fairhaven Park, 1 p.m.; No. 4 Washington vs. No. 13 Brentwood, at Fairhaven Park, 5 p.m.; No. 5 Valley vs. No. 12 New Brighton, at Shaler, 3 p.m.; No. 6 South Park vs. No. 11 Deer Lakes, at Hampton Community Park, 3 p.m.; No. 7 Mt. Pleasant vs. No. 10 Mohawk, at Hampton Com. Park, 5 p.m.; No. 8 Greensburg C.C. vs. No. 9 Beth-Center, at Cal U, 3 p.m.
Top three reach PIAAs

Class A
First-round games Wednesday, May 14
No. 1 Vincentian, bye; No. 2 Neshannock vs. No. 15 Mapletown, at Fairhaven Park, 1 p.m.; No. 3 Leechburg vs. No. 14 Western Beaver, at Fairhaven, 3 p.m.; No. 4 Serra vs. No. 13 Avonworth, at Hampton Com. Park, 5 p.m.; No. 5 Carmichaels vs. No. 12 Bentworth, at Finley Middle School, 4 p.m.; No. 6 Fort Cherry vs. No. 11 Union, at Fairhaven Park, 5 p.m.; No. 7 Mt. Alvernia vs. No. 10 Bishop Canevin, at Hampton Com. Park, 3 p.m.; No. 8 Chartiers-Houston vs. No. 9 West Greene, at Finley Middle School, 2 p.m.
Top three reach PIAAs

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Track tracks

Notes from Class AA Southern Qualifier

A sub.-11.0, 100-meter dash is pretty impressive for any track athlete. But if the times from the Class AA Southern Qualifier is any indication, a sub.11.0 might not be enough to qualify for the state tournament. Waynesburg's Keith Higginbotham turned in a 10.9 (hand-held) and took fourth place.

Jerome Nixon continues to produce talent at Bentworth High School. The 1,600 relay team of Colton Korpus, Chad Hubbell, Chase Hubbell and Anthony Zigerelli won the 1,600 relay with a school-record time of 3:31.8.

Chris Spicer of South Fayette put the shot 47-4 1/4 to take first place, one foot better than second-place R.J. Cook of Beaver.

Charleroi's Ethan Hank, who has posted blistering times in the sprints for Charleroi this season, did not compete in the qualifier.

Fort Cherry's 1,600 relay team of Michelina Campanella, Allison Kelley, Mia Sember and Sidney Walter crossed the finish line first in 4:10.40, nearly two seconds better than second-place South Park.

PT beats C-M, makes playoffs

James Stratico hit a grand slam and Jordan Jankowski struck out 14 as Peters Township reached the WPIAL playoffs with a 10-5 win over Canon-Mac. Details in tomorrow's paper. (Oh, there will be a C-M story coming in the next couple days on winning the section.)

Couple other things. Peters Township has a scary offense. Just ask Mike Toward. I've only seen him pitch twice this season, both against Peters, and he looked shaky both times. He's normally solid, so maybe he's just got a mental block against the Indians (and there's nothing wrong with that, they're a tough team). PT didn't beat opponents down the stretch so much as they pummeled them into submission (78 runs in the final eight games, four times scoring 10+).

Peters' pitching seems to be improving at the right time too. While the offense is busy clicking away, the pitching staff gave up just 24 runs in the last eight games (although 15 came in their one loss) with three shutouts.

The Big Macs' offense isn't too shabby either. Jankowski entered the game with something like a 0.37 ERA and C-M got five across the plate (four were earned). Granted, he struck out a bunch but they also got to him a couple times, including in the seventh, when the Big Macs could've easily folded after the Stratico grand slam.

Not sure what seed Canon-Mac will get in the playoffs but they should still be top three even with the loss. Section 3 was pretty tough to say the least.

I'll probably give blog updates for future games I cover so long as I still have access to this blog (Mike rules with an iron fist) for anyone who may have appreciated my updates earlier. I think that's all for now.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

WPIAL Track qualifiers

Here's the list of track qualifiers for the WPIAL individual championships from the Class AAA meet at West Mifflin (pester Tuscano for Class AA), sorted by team:

Canon-McMillan: Jamie Kretz (800 run); 400 relay team (Libby Guyton, Natasha Williams, Taylor Parisse, Emily McCarthy); Brittany Taylor (high jump); Cassie Allen (high jump, long jump); Chelsea Zahn (shot put, discus)
Peters Township: Megan Hahn (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Steph Nitschmann (100 dash); Amy Trotnick (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles); 1,600 relay team (Hahn, Trotnick, Nitschmann, Maura McGonigal); 3,200 relay (Kayleigh Bush, Kayla Keddal, Katie Nerone, Melissa Zuccarini); Bush (pole vault)
Ringgold: Logan Cole (400 dash)
Trinity: Melissa Poach (800 run); Chelsea Sumney (1,600 run, 3,200 run); Shaina Sumney (3,200 run); Jessica Zimak (1,600 run); 3,200 relay team (the Sumneys, Poach, Zimak); Shannon Fullerton (shot put)

Canon-McMillan: Teddy Mathis (100 dash); Will Glendenning (100 dash); Jeravin Matthews (400 dash, long jump); Julian Rankin, Kyle Gibson and Matt Gregory (each in the 1,600 and 3,200 run); Sonny Billingsley (300 hurdles, triple jump); 400 relay (Glendenning, Matthews, Jon Pozonsky, Mathis); 1,600 relay (Matthews, Mathis, Michael Ennis, Luke Alauzen); 3,200 relay (Alauzen, Nick Gibson, Chris Reed, Gregory); Jeff Grossi (high jump); Jon Corey (shot put); Kurt Bonnet (discus); Zane Zebrasky (javelin)
Peters Township: Hunter Braden (400 dash); Christian Brandstetter (800 run); Keven Gregg (1,600 run); Matt Courter (110 hurdles); 1,600 relay (Courter, Brandstetter, Braden, Andy Blandino); Steve Smith (high jump); Dave Neville (pole vault); Chas McCauley and Blaine Krivacek (both in the javelin)
Ringgold: Rob Garland (100 dash); Keith Doleno (800 run); Matt Myers (300 hurdles); 400 relay (Myers, Joey Baldini, Garland, Jake Spaziani)
Trinity: Ian Campbell (800 run); Joe Marquis (300 hurdles, triple jump); 3,200 relay (Campbell, Jimmy Huff, Chris Kee, Mike Standish)

The championship is Thursday, May 15 at Baldwin H.S.

Monday, May 5, 2008

WPIAL softball and baseball clinchings

Baseball and softball playoff teams are set; pairings come out Thursday for softball and Friday for baseball. Here's who's in (section champions marked with an asterisk):
AAAA (13 teams)
Trinity shares the Section 4 title with Mt. Lebanon. The other teams are Peters Township, Latrobe*, Connellsville, Hempfield, Kiski*, McKeesport, Gateway, Seneca Valley, North Hills, Shaler, North Allegheny (the last four all finished 8-4 in Section 3).
AAA (15)
Waynesburg*, Elizabeth Forward* (share with Waynesburg), Belle Vernon, Ellwood City*, New Castle, Ambridge, Yough, Franklin Regional*, Greensburg Salem, Keystone Oaks*, Montour* (split with KO), Chartiers Valley, Knoch*, Kittanning and Indiana.
AA (18)
Wash High*, Beth-Center, Burgettstown, Sto-Rox*, New Brighton, Center, Valley*, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Mt. Pleasant*, Greensburg CC* (share with MP), Ford City, Riverside*, Mohawk, Laurel, South Allegheny*, South Park and Brentwood.
A (15)
Bentworth beats Fort Cherry on the final day, resulting in a section championship share between FC and Chartiers-Houston (Rangers fans, before you get upset: coaches I've talked to seem split on whether head-to-head comes into play in deciding section championships; some say it matters, some say head-to-head matters just for deciding playoff berths. If anyone knows for sure either way, do tell. At the least, you still have bragging rights at beating them twice.) Case in point: the Bearcats are now in the playoffs, having tied Avella at 9-6 but beating the Eagles two out of three games this season. Carmichaels*, West Greene, Mapletown, Vincentian*, Bishop Canevin, Avonworth, Neshannock*, Union, Western Beaver are in. Leechburg, Mount Alvernia and Serra share the Section 4 title.

AAAA (13)
Canon-McMillan*, Peters Township, Bethel Park, Seneca Valley*, Butler, Shaler, North Allegheny Latrobe, Hempfield, Franklin Regional, Central Catholic, Plum, Gateway.
AAA (13)
Hampton, Blackhawk, New Castle, Mars, Laurel Highlands, Greensburg Salem, Derry, West Allegheny*, Moon, Chartiers Valley, West Mifflin*, Trinity, Steel Valley. Thomas Jefferson can still get in by beating Trinity Thursday.
AA (19)
Beaver*, Center, New Brighton, Charleroi*, Wash High*, Brownsville, Burrell*, Ford City, Valley, Greensburg CC*, Shady Side, Riverview, Southmoreland, Riverside, Neshannock*, Mohawk, Seton-La Salle*, Canevin, South Fayette.
A (12)
Carmichaels*, Jefferson-Morgan, Geibel, Chartiers-Houston*, Avella, Cornell, Rochester*, Monaca, Union, Serra*, Springdale*, Vincentian.

Also, the Canon-McMillan boys track team competes against North Allegheny, Baldwin and Butler in the WPIAL team track championship Thursday (May 8) at West Mifflin at 2 p.m.

One last thing: Kovak showed quite a few moves on the dance floor Saturday. Apparently he's really into disco.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Changing of the guard

The Varsity Letters will undergo a temporary change in content over the next two weeks.

Yours truly is taking time off to get married and honeymoon, so the blog is being taken over by O-R staff writers Joe Tuscano and Kevin Jacobsen.

Tuscano is the O-R's assistant sports editor and he plays a mean kazoo. Those who know Tuscano know he's originally from New Castle and that he loves the sun in South Carolina.

Those who know Jacobsen know he loves the Pittsburgh Penguins. Come to think of it, that's about all anyone knows of the elusive Jacobsen.

Anyway, take care all and I'll be back in a couple.