Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Varsity notebook

There's no statistical evidence to back up the following statement, but I've covered a lot of high school baseball games.

And I never watched a team smack the baseball around like Peters Township did Monday night against Latrobe.

Peters Township, the top seed in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs, finished the four-inning game against Latrobe with 14 hits. A total of 10 went for extra bases, and it looked like a contest to see which player could hit the ball the hardest.

While a Brady Sheetz grand slam in the fourth sure looked impressive, it will be hard to top the two triples ripped by Pitt recruit Justin Bianco or the foul ball shot from Austin Hancock that drew a collective "oooooooohhhhh" from the crowd at Washington & Jefferson's Ross Memorial Park.

Where Peters Township ranks among top offensive teams will be determined. There's no guarantee that the Indians will get past Butler in Wednesday's semifinals, but if the Indians go on to win a third WPIAL Class AAAA championship and more, there's no way they are not in that conversation.

* The PIAA Track and Field Championships start Friday morning at Shippensburg University. The PIAA has released its seeds for events.

Class AAA boys

Class AA boys

Class AAA girls

Class AA girls

Seeds don't always mean much when it comes to track. It's difficult to determine which athletes faced bad weather at their district championships, which ones were pushed or which ones coasted to easy wins.

* It's been some time since a local athlete showed as much promise during his sophomore season as Ringgold's Demetrius Louis.

Louis came this close to moving from eighth, and final, place to first place in the Class AAA 100 dash at the WPIAL championships. Louis' legs actually crossed the finish line ahead of Bethel Park's Shakeil Carter but Carter leaned into the finish and his torso crossed first, and that's what counts.

Louis, who told me he's already heard from Pitt among other Division I football programs, also ran a strong third leg for the Rams' gold-medal and school-record setting 400 relay team.

If Louis continues to put in work, particularly on his starts, he could become a multiple WPIAL track champion. And, according to what Ringgold boys basketball coach Pete Logan told me at the beginning of May, Louis plans on playing basketball as a junior.

* One reason for Ringgold's sudden success in the sprints at the WPIAL level is the cooperation between football coach Matt Humbert and track coach Scott Frederick.

Humbert encouraged his players to participate in track, something some football coaches don't do. I, for one, have always believed track can significantly help football players, particularly guys at the skill positions.

Look at all the great Wash High football players/track athletes of the past for an example.

Not only will track help players like Louis, Quad Law, Alfon Cook, etc. from learning certain running techniques that can be used on the playing field, it's given them something else in which to succeed.

Success breeds confidence, which usually breeds more success. Kudos to Coach Humbert and Coach Frederick for cooperating this year.

* Wash High junior Dustin Fuller, one engaging interview, may have entered elite status with his anchor leg in the WPIAL Class AA 1,600 relay.

Fuller won the 300 hurdles earlier in the day and was part of the Prexies' third-place 400 relay team, but it was his anchor leg in the day's final event that really had people talking.

According to coaches right after the race, Fuller ran a split of 49.3 seconds as Washington broke its own WPIAl championship meet record, which was set in 2001. That's crazy, and it gives Fuller something to think about for what should be a highly decorated senior year. Should Fuller run the open 400?

* Canon-McMillan's Taylor Slaney finished fifth in the Class AAA girls javelin and qualified for the PIAA championships on what amounts on a fractured ankle.

Slaney wore a boot before the competition, and after the competition.

What she accomplished is nothing short of spectacular. It's also the highlight of an outstanding day for local throwers. Canon-McMillan and Fort Cherry are sending multiple competitors to states in the throws.

* Fort Cherry junior Jessie Merckle is a serious candidate for Girls Athlete of the Year. So is South Fayette senior Nicole Hilton. As I'm writing this, I'm not sure if they are the top two candidates or not, but the PIAA championships could push one of these two to the forefront.

* Waynesburg's baseball team qualified for the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2000 with its 10-4 win over Frazier Monday afternoon.

In those days, the Raiders were led by Lee Fritz, one of the betters multi-sport athletes in school history and the first WPIAL player to run and pass for 1,000 yards each during the same season. Maybe the best description for Fritz was that he was a winner.

The current Raiders have two exceptional players in Steve McCaw and Joe Monica. With Waynesburg in the semifinals and owning a legit shot at winning a WPIAL championship, the duo have an opportunity to create a little legend in a town that loves its sports teams.

McCaw, by the way, is one of the better catchers in a WPIAL filled with good catchers.

* Chartiers-Houston softball ranks right up there with programs like Peters Township boys soccer when it comes to sustained success.

One program that occasionally gets overlooked is Chartiers-Houston baseball.

The Bucs are in the WPIAL Class A semifinals following a one-year hiatus and will face top-seed Serra Catholic, which needed extra innings and a three-run rally in the seventh inning to knock off Carmichaels.

* Speaking of success and tradition, California baseball owns plenty of both, and the Trojans are also in the Class A semifinals following Monday's 14-7 win over Bentworth.

After the game, California coach Don Hartman informed reporters that assistant coach Shaun Rice - one heckuva pitcher during his playing days - suffered a heart attack last week and remains hospitalized.

Here's wishing a speedy and full recovery for Rice.


Anonymous said...

Mike.. did you see Louis stats from the Nike combine... The kid ran a legit 4.51 40.. which is blazing fast considering they actually give accuarate times and his vertical jump was 38 inches.

Louis is the most athletic kid since Brian Miller. I saw him play hoops a few times. He doesnt have much basketball skill but he was by far the best athlete on the court. This kid is a sure bet to go D1 if he has the grades and SAT.

Also, Derek Fiore has turned in some great times as well. Glad to see the Ringgold athletes participating. They have the athletes they just dont always come out for the team.

Here is the link from the NIke Camp


mike_kovak said...

I did see those. Impressive stuff.

prexie said...

just a note, wash high track has just about everyone back next year.with their success, more kids should be going out who should have run this year. they need a few distance runners to step up.i think they have a few kids on that team who can flirt with 49 in the 400.