Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Varsity notebook

Some random thoughts before covering four championship games the next three days ...

Peters Township, Waynesburg and Chartiers-Houston are playing for WPIAL baseball championships. Either Chartiers-Houston or Fort Cherry will win the WPIAL Class A softball title.

Five teams reaching this stage of the postseason confirms something that's been evident to anyone paying attention to high school sports in this area - Washington and Greene counties excel in spring sports.

Baseball and softball top the list.

It's not close. Not even wrestling approaches the success the local baseball and softball teams have achieved.

In recent years, Peters Township, Carmichaels and California have won multiple WPIAL baseball titles. Canon-McMillan won a state championship, while Peters Township played for two, and South Fayette (I know, save your comments) and Carmichaels also reached the championship game.

In softball, Waynesburg, Carmichaels and Chartiers-Houston have won WPIAL titles. The Bucs own a state title as does Carmichaels, while Trinity, Burgettstown and Beth-Center all played for championships.

* The high school football season needs to be one week shorter.

South Fayette became the first team from our area to play a 16-game regular season. Add two scrimmages, training camp and practices to the list, and it's roughly five months of football. The Lions were a tired team leading into the state championship game.

* The Chartiers-Houston softball team is better than last year's outfit that won the state championship, yet that certainly does not mean the Bucs will repeat or even beat Fort Cherry in the WPIAL Class A championship game Thursday at California University.

Let's start with why the Bucs are better.

Colby Miller and Kayla Briggs - the top two batters - are better hitters than a year ago. Both are undoubtedly good enough to start for any team. Moving the mound back to 43 feet from home plate has seemed to help pitcher Kiersten Conwell, who relies on movement and mixing speeds more than throwing hard.

That said, the beauty (or the agony) of the postseason in baseball and softball is that one bad hop, one defensive miscue or a pitcher who is pitching his/her best game can end a more talented team's season.

* After watching Fort Cherry beat Shenango and considering the Rangers have scored a WPIAL-best 30 runs through three playoff games, it doesn't appear Class A's No. 15 seed is as much as Cinderella story as they are a dynamic offensive club.

It's not a fluke. Fort Cherry earned its spot in the finals.

* Speaking of Fort Cherry, the Rangers are in the final stages of their best school year for girls sports.

* It's disappointing to see only two Class AAA medalists - Canon-McMillan's Taylor Slaney and Peters Township's Kaitlyn Brace - at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

* With five medals, Washington had its biggest haul since 2001. All medalists return next year for the Prexies.

* Here's been a topic of discussion among those of us that cover the WPIAL baseball/softball playoffs: If the Peters Township football program climbs to the level that of the other teams at the school, would PT be considered the top sports program in the WPIAL.

At the very least, Peters Township would be considered.

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Anonymous said...

Mike, not to look down on your tired theory regarding South Fayette football and the state finals and then using that to deduct that HS football in PA is too long, but Clairton has made 3 straight trips to Hershey winning the last 2 State Titles. They have played 48 games in the last 3 seasons (54 if you count scrimmages...and that doesnt include 7 on 7 games) which is by far more than anyone in the state over that same span, a span that they are 46-2 over. And, fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to slice it, they are probably going to be playing 16 more games this year also. Im sure if asked, there isnt a team in the WPIAL, or the State for that matter, that would complain about playing 16 football games in a season...it means they are competing for a state title.

mike_kovak said...

Why can't you play 15 games and play for a state title?

Anonymous said...

If you play 15 games you have to shorten the district playoffs by a week...which means you have to cut the playoff field in half from 16 to 8. Look at the WPIAL playoff field over the last few years. How many of those teams in the semi's and finals advanced out of the 9th or lower seed?

mike_kovak said...

I'm all for trimming down the WPIAL football playoffs.

R. Keith Taylor said...

Football is not a priority at Peters. With the revolving door of coaches and lack of stud athletes, it will never win. Yes, it can get a few players to go off and play some college ball, but its not like it has sent anyone to the Big Ten (or Big East for that matter) anytime recently (or ever for all I know). Peters gets a few decent kids who are Jrs and Srs, but can one up and coming player be referenced? I know Ringgold is on the crest of the wave and South Fayette is on its way down, but these schools have sustained winners in years past. If you look at Peters' records, it has one or two decent years for three or four bad years. They made strides this year, but they graduated some key linemen as well as the QB, Hancock. Erenberg may be a decent RB, but he will only be as good as the line. I hope PT does well in the future, but some stuff needs to be fixed--community involvement, if you know what I mean.

Some schools just specialize in some sports, others excel in all. For example, Clairton and TJ's only concern is Football, while USC, Lebo, et al. focus on balance.

But to say PT isnt elite would be wrong, because it is, look at the hardware--just not in football.

Anonymous said...

didnt trinity baseball play for a wpial title also in 2008??

mike_kovak said...

Yep, against West A if I remember right.

See, there's been so many local teams playing for baseball and softball titles, it's really tough remembering them all.

Joey Niklas said...

As I noted in another blog on this site. The WPIAL champ will play its first round game in the Western Finals like in the past. Have no fear WPIAL fans.