Monday, June 30, 2014

Observer-Reporter All-District Softball teams

Player of the Year 
Olivia Lorusso, Canon-McMillan
Senior, Third Base

It was hard to imagine the Robert Morris recruit improving at the plate, but she did just that. Lorusso batted .532 with a team-high 16 home runs and 46 RBI. She added eight doubles, 33 runs, 44 hits and had a 1.285 slugging percentage to lead the highest powered offense in the WPIAL.

First Team 
Erica Burns, Carmichaels
Junior, Pitcher

Few WPIAL softball players have been as consistent the past three years as Burns. She finished third in the area with 166 strikeouts in 108 innings while going 14-4 with a 1.23 ERA. At the plate, she led the Mikes with a .508 average while adding a home run, 20 runs and 13 RBI.

Delaney Elling, Trinity
Sophomore, First Base

A Penn State recruit, Elling led the Hillers with 39 hits, 11 doubles and a .684 batting average to lead all local players. She also tied for the team lead with 32 RBI and had 27 runs with two home runs.

Hannah Gibbons, Waynesburg
Junior, Third Base

A University of Pennsylvania recruit, Gibbons was dominant in the field and at the plate for the Raiders. Waynesburg’s leadoff hitter batted .614 and added three home runs, 34 runs, 26 RBI and struck out just twice in 87 plate appearances. She also drew 21 walks and committed just two errors in the field.

Olivia Gray, Trinity
Junior, Shortstop

Gray, a Pitt recruit, batted .554 with eight doubles, five home runs, 32 stolen bases and tied for the team lead with 32 RBI. Flawless in the field, Gray also led the Hillers with 34 runs and a 1.092 slugging percentage.

Ashley Iagnemma, South Fayette
Junior, Pitcher

Iagnemma was pivotal in the Lions’ first section title in program history with a 1.80 ERA in the circle and 151 strikeouts. She had a 14-2 record that included a three-hit shutout over Trinity to clinch the title. She also batted .400 with a team-high 30 RBI.

Abby McCartney, Canon-McMillan
Junior, Outfielder

The powerful left-handed hitter and Robert Morris recruit led the Big Macs with a .575 average, while adding 12 home runs, 45 RBI, five doubles, 42 hits and 36 runs. She struck out just twice in 84 plate appearances. One of the top fielding outfielders in the WPIAL, McCartney did not commit an error while recording 35 putouts.

Linda Rush, Canon-McMillan
Sophomore, Shortstop

One season after hitting the game-winning home run in the PIAA Class AAAA title game, Rush batted .571 and led the Big Macs with 48 hits, 40 runs and 16 doubles. She batted .471 with nine home runs, 38 RBI and struck out only six times in 89 plate appearances.

Cassie Weiss, McGuffey
Senior, Pitcher

Weiss was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the WPIAL this season, leading the district with 175 strikeouts in 102 innings to finish her career with 554. She also tossed 12 complete game wins.

Giorgiana Zeremenko, Canon-McMillan
Senior, Catcher

Zeremenko, a Pitt recruit, reinforced her status as the best defensive catcher in the WPIAL by not committing an error in 2014. She was her dominant self at the plate with a .438 average, five home runs, 24 RBI, 32 hits and just two strikeouts in 79 plate appearances.

Second team 
Bailey Bennington, West Greene
Sophomore, Pitcher

While the Pioneers experienced growing pains this season, Bennington was one of the most dominant players in Class A softball. She recorded seven double-digit strikeout games, including a 22-strikeout performance against Monessen. She finished second among local pitchers with 174 strikeouts this season in 108.2 innings. Opponents hit .242 against her, and she batted .507 with three home runs and 20 RBI.

Jasmine Fuqua, Trinity
Senior, Outfielder

One of the most improved players from last season, Fuqua led Trinity with eight home runs while batting .400. She also scored 20 runs, and hit five doubles. Her slugging percentage (0.980) and on-base percentage plus slugging (1.488) ranked third on the team.

Sara Jubas, South Fayette
Freshman, Catcher

A key cog in the Lions’ youth movement, Jubas led the team with a .648 average while driving in 19, and hitting 21 singles, nine doubles, four triples and a home run. Jubas caught one of the WPIAL’s most dominant pitchers, and was named South Fayette’s Rookie of the Year.

Kellyn Perich, Peters Township
Junior, Pitcher

Perich averaged more than nine strikeouts per game and finished with 65 on the season in 47 innings. She also hit .419 with 17 runs and four RBI.

Caley Ritts, Burgettstown
Junior, Catcher/Shortstop

Ritts was a key component in the Blue Devils’ first state playoff victory in 12 years and 18-5 overall record. The junior led Burgettstown with 33 hits, a .446 batting average and a .538 slugging percentage. She also had 17 RBI and only struck out twice in 23 games.

Reagan Rush, Jefferson-Morgan
Junior, Catcher

Rockets head coach Tony Barbetta calls Rush one of the best catchers he has coached and her offensive numbers help support the endorsement. Rush led J-M with a .540 batting average and hit two home runs, eight doubles, had 16 RBI, 26 runs, 10 stolen bases, a .900 slugging percentage and she drew a team-high 23 walks.

Tiffany Ross, Waynesburg
Sophomore, Second Base

Ross was an all-section selection and her offensive numbers supported a Raiders team that took a giant leap forward this season. Ross batted .447 with a team-high 26 RBI, 21 runs, two home runs and four doubles.

Haley Sutton, Chartiers-Houston
Senior, Catcher

A four-year starter, Sutton was asked to move to catcher after Casey Craig’s season-ending shoulder injury and Sutton did not miss a beat. She led the team in almost every offensive category, including batting average (.460), hits (23), home runs (3), RBI (24), slugging percentage (.820) and tied for first in runs (19) and doubles (5).

Kate Tarr, Burgettstown
Sophomore, Pitcher

Tarr led the Blue Devils with a 10-4 record and 104 strikeouts. She also was the team’s best hitter with a .333 average, a team-high 32 RBI, a .538 slugging percentage and a .384 on-base percentage.

Observer-Reporter All-District Baseball teams

Player of the Year 
Josh Luko, California
Senior, Pitcher/First Base

A no-hitter, WPIAL Class A Pitcher of the Year, first-team all-state selection and a Class A WPIAL title. Luko’s senior year was a dominant one. After taking over as the Trojans’ No. 1 starter, Luko went a perfect 10-0 with 59.1 innings pitched, 70 strikeouts, two walks and a 0.82 ERA.

First Team
Jared Beach, Canon-McMillan
Junior, Outfielder

A power-hitting left-handed hitter with a strong throwing arm and speed on the base paths, Beach was exceptional for the Big Macs in right field. He batted .485 with 32 hits, five doubles, eight triples and four home runs. His 35 RBI were a team-high and as C-M’s No. 3 hitter, Beach scored 18 times.

Michael Blasinsky, Carmichaels
Junior, Catcher

Besides catching one of the WPIAL’s top pitchers, Blasinsky was a threat as the Mikes’ No. 3 hitter in the batting order. Blasinsky had a .424/.521/.559 line with 26 RBI, six extra-base hits, 22 runs and struck out just six times in 71 plate appearances.

Louden Conte, California
Sophomore, Shortstop

Conte batted .507 with 26 RBI, 14 stolen bases, an on-base percentage of .621 and just four strikeouts. He committed only three errors in 21 games as a key cog in the Trojans’ outstanding infield.

Frank Jezioro, Peters Township
Junior, Outfielder

The Indians’ starting center fielder led the team with a .439 average and 25 hits while contributing three home runs, 21 RBI and 14 runs. The left-handed hitter also committed just one error in 20 games for PT.

Brandon Lawless, Carmichaels
Senior, Pitcher

An Alderson Broaddus recruit, Lawless lived up to his reputation as an innings eater and improved on his numbers from a stellar junior season. The 6-4 hard-throwing righty tossed 67 1/3 innings while striking out 90 and walking 33. He finished the spring with a 9-2 record, including a complete-game victory in the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.

Teagan Piechnick, Canon-McMillan
Senior, Outfielder

A Triple Crown candidate in the WPIAL for the first half of the season, Piechnick was dominant this spring. The righty led the team in batting average (.522), runs (36), hits (35), doubles (6), home runs (7) and walks (12). The Rider University recruit drove in 26 runs and added four triples. On defense, his rocket arm in center field led to seven outfield assists, including three in the WPIAL playoffs.

Aaron Previsky, California
Junior, Outfielder

Previsky batted .450 with 23 RBI, 31 runs, five triples, six doubles and a team-high 16 stolen bases. Maybe the fastest player in the WPIAL, Previsky ran an event-best 6.50 60-yard dash at the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association Showcase.

Jonathan Spina, Washington
Junior, Pitcher/Outfielder

Spina was the Prexies’ workhorse with a 7-2 record on the mound. The crafty left-handed pitcher finished with a 1.35 ERA and was a fixture atop Wash High’s lineup. The speedy right-handed hitter batted .407 with one home run and 14 RBI.

Jake Trainor, Canon-McMillan
Junior, Pitcher

Trainor was nothing short of exceptional this spring with a 6-2 record in 45 innings. His two losses came in one-run games against Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park. The righty finished the spring with a 2.40 ERA, 29 strikeouts and 11 walks. He pitched a complete game in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA Playoffs to extend C-M’s season.

Second Team 
Ty Cole, Carmichaels
Senior, Shortstop

A Salem International University recruit (Division II), Cole led the Mikes in several offensive categories as the team’s cleanup hitter. He led Carmichaels with a .439 batting average, 25 hits and 31 RBI. Ten of his 25 hits went for extra bases and he struck out just seven times in 69 plate appearances.

Jake Columbus, California
Senior, Catcher

The Trojans’ leadoff hitter and team leader, Columbus had a breakout season for the WPIAL Class A champs with a .460 batting average, 22 RBI, 26 runs and a .588 on-base percentage. Columbus also drew 12 walks and allowed just one passed ball in 21 games.

Alec Ferrari, Chartiers-Houston
Junior, Pitcher

Also a standout in football and basketball, Ferrari’s pitching led the Bucs back to the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. He tossed 44 2/3 innings with 35 strikeouts and a 1.58 ERA.

Tyler Godwin, South Fayette
Senior, Outfielder/Infielder/Pitcher

Godwin, a do-it-all senior for the Lions, was the team’s top hitter with a .439 average, 28 RBI, 21 runs and one home run. A WPIAL Class AAA All-Star, Godwin also saw time on the mound and finished with a perfect 3-0 record.

Chris Gouin, Washington
Junior, Second Base

The Prexies’ leadoff hitter, Gouin was one of many Wash High players who took a leap forward this spring. He led the team with a .481 batting average, a .663 on-base percentage and 20 runs. Gouin was a threat on the base paths and was solid defensively.

Aaron Hill, Waynesburg
Senior, Pitcher/Outfielder

The Raiders’ ace tossed 37 innings and had an area-best 0.76 ERA. The crafty left-handed pitcher also batted .340 with six doubles and two triples.

Chandler Palyas, Canon-McMillan
Junior, Outfielder

A member of one of the WPIAL’s best outfields, Palyas was a prototypical leadoff hitter for the Big Macs. He batted .410 with a .547 on-base percentage with 21 runs, three doubles, a triple, eight RBI and eight walks.

Phil Pisarcik, Peters Township
Senior, Second Base

The Indians’ leadoff hitter was pivotal in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. He went 3-for-4 with two runs in PT’s playoff loss to Pine Richland. Pisarcik had a .354/.455/.430 line with 13 runs, 11 RBI and three doubles.

Tyler Schmidt, Peters Township
Senior, Pitcher/Third Base

Schmidt made the biggest improvement of any player in the area this spring with a 3-0 record on the mound, including a win over Canon-McMillan in a playoff play-in game, and a 1.18 ERA with 34 strikeouts and only four earned runs in 23 2/3 innings. He also drove in four runs with four doubles and two triples.

Friday, June 20, 2014

PIAA's 'mixed-gender' rule asking for problems

The PIAA announced a new set of rules today regarding boys participating in girls athletics. The changes are the latest made by the state's high school sports governing body after a heated debate two months ago regarding charter schools, which did not result in a ruling.

Under a new mixed-gender rule, a boy cannot play on a girls team if a school as the same sport for both boys and girls. If a school does not have a boys' team in a particular sport, a boy can play on the girls team, but only if the school principal determines the follow:

  • The boy would not displace a girl on the team
  • The boy would likely not, because of his physical size or other characteristics, pose an increased risk of harm to opponents.
  • The boy would not provide a significant competitive advantage.
  • The overall boys program at the school provides fewer opportunities for boys to participate than girls.
A catch 22 is that if the principal deems that a boy can play on a girls' team, that team must participate in the boys' regular season and playoffs.

The set of rules makes little sense and seems like a waste of time for those who attended the meeting. There are few instances where a boy must participate on a girls team. When a school drops a sport, players are able to join another school's program, which was the case with Sto-Rox's now-defunct softball program.

Putting these guidelines in the hands of a principal, who rarely attend sporting events and mostly are unaware of the athletics in their respective schools, is asking for problems. The PIAA is allowing one person to determine a boys' athletic fate. If a boy plays a girls sport, such as soccer, and injures a girl on the other team, who will be punished? You can bet the principal will take the brunt of the criticism with the PIAA's latest ruling covering its back.

The principal surely can't answer for following a PIAA ruling. What about regulations for girls playing boys sports? That issue is more likely to come to the forefront without football or wrestling programs for girls. Those two sports are the most popular in the state of Pennsylvania and are starting to draw female athletes.

It doesn't make much sense to create rules for one without the other. As is the case with most high school sports rulings, not much will be said until someone gets injured.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Trinity football poised for step forward in 2014

Coming off a one-win season, Trinity’s football team is ready to take a major step forward in 2014. Quarterback Forest Cullings, who is receiving significant interest from Ivy League and Patriot League programs, returns and several younger players are progressing.

Junior offensive lineman Mac Chambers was invited to and attended’s Under Armour camp in Columbus, which is an exclusive camp for a player to showcase his skills in front of college coaches.  Chambers started at left tackle for the Hillers last season and will protect Cullings’ blindside once again in 2014.

Robert West, a senior linebacker, is drawing Ivy League interest and is visiting Harvard Wednesday with Columbia next on the list.

Senior safety and kicking specialist Samuel Trapuzzano went to Notre Dame’s specialist camp earlier this month and tied for the winning field goal with a 47-yard kick. He is also attending camps at Vanderbilt and Cornell this summer.

Junior linebacker Jacob Dobich is maxing out on the bench press at 355 and squats 605 with regularity. It seems that Trinity could be a breakthrough team this fall with a bevy of talent returning with major size and strength.

Cullings is very impressive with his ability to escape the pass rush and his size (6-4, 201 pounds). He can make short, intermediate and deep throws and with a strong offensive line in front of him, will surely improve in his senior season.

The one thing working against the Hillers is an incredibly tough schedule. Playing in Class AAA will have that affect.

Week One: vs. Belle Vernon
Week Two: at Laurel Highlands
Week Three: vs. Elizabeth Forward
Week Four: at Albert Gallatin
Week Five: vs. Thomas Jefferson
Week Six: at Uniontown
Week Seven: at Yough
Week Eight: vs. West Mifflin
Week Nine: at Ringgold

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Junior baseball players impress at WBCA Showcase

The WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association's All-Star Game events last weekend and a few local players had impressive performances in the Junior Showcase. College coaches from 22 Division I programs were in attendance, as well as scouts for three MLB teams (Pirates, Royals & Orioles).

At the showcase, scouts and coaches measured speed in the 60-yard dash to simulate the base paths and clocked miles per hour on throws from the outfield to home plate, as well as measuring accuracy, to simulate a solid outfield arm.

Canon-McMillan junior right fielder Jared Beach had a big day in the running and outfield throws. Beach's time in the 60-yard dash was 7.13 and his throw of 88 miles per hour from the outfield was the third best of the day.

I spoke to Big Macs head coach Frank Zebrasky on Friday and he raved about the throw, which was a perfect laser to home plate. Beach, a left-handed hitter, had a .485 batting average this season with eight triples, four home runs and a team-high 31 RBI.

He is going to attract major interest and will likely join teammate Teagan Piechnick, who is headed to Rider University to play baseball, as a Division I prospect.

Piechnick will likely compete for a starting job at Rider as a freshman. The Broncs return four outfielders, but the group batted less than .200 last season.

  • Washington's Jonathan Spina ran an impressive 6.70 in the 60-yard dash and finished in the top-five, while California's Aaron Previsky had the best time in the drill (6.50). Peters Township's Frank Jezioro finished fourth in the 60 with a time of 6.57 and his outfield throw of 86 miles per hour tied for fourth.

Monday, June 9, 2014

18th annual BeeGraphix Football Classic rosters

The 18th annual BeeGraphix Football Classic will be held Saturday at McGuffey High School with kick-off set for 7 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., admission $5 for adults, $3 for children. Six coaches will be introduced to the Tri-County Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame; including McGuffey head coach Ed Dalton, former Elizabeth Forward head coach Jim Dumm, former South Park, Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park head coach Jim Engott, current Waynesburg head coach Russ Moore and former South Allegheny head coach Rick Pavlisko, who is currently an assistant at Peters Township.
Below are the rosters for the North and South teams:
Patrick Frey        McGuffey           RB           Mercyhurst
Zach Thompson   Avella                  RB          
Dalton Wildman  West Greene  LB           W&J
Derek Hull           Char-Houston    DT           Waynesburg
Brandon Kushnar   Geibel             DB          Seton Hill
Charles Manack    Frazier             QB          Geneva
Jake Murphy         Bethel Park      DE           Marine Academy
Jake Greiner         Bethel Park      DB          West Virginia
Miles Williamson  Char-Houston  WR       IUP
Stephen Kotouch   Burgettstown  RB      Undecided
Marcus Ubinger      Peters Twp.       RB         Grove City
Zac Enick              Bethel Park         RB           Pitt
Zack Mastowski   Frazier                 LB          
Chris Boff            South Park          OL           Thiel
Ryan Ward          McGuffey           DT           Undecided
Chris Corrado     Peters Twp.        OL           Geneva College
Kenny Ward       Peters Twp.        LB           Robert Morris
Walter Lober      Char-Houston    OL           Undecided
Dan Leonard      Frazier                  DT                          
Casey Schreiner    BP              OL           Michigan State
Joe Hela               Frazier                  OL           Undecided
Trevin Bedilion  West Greene     DE           Waynesburg
Arthur Long        Washington        DE           Undecided
Chris Batove       Fort Cherry         OL           Undecided
Anthony Byrd    Wash High           OL          
Aaron Williams  South Park          DE           Undecided
Jacob Martin      Canon-Mac         WR         Waynesburg
Head Coach: Terry Fetsko, Chartiers-Houston
Assistant Coaches:
Rusty Springer                   Shane Leichty
Jim Morris                           Matt Rado
Dave Rullo                           Jim Mele
Kevin Vonscio                    Karlon Nixon
Mike Macerelli

Anthony Sivie    Trinity                   TE           Undecided
Javon Brown      Monessen          RB           Lackawanna
Dereck Riggleman  Mapletown  WR         Penn St. Fayette
Colby Kincell       Mapletown        DB                         
Brandon Lawless   Carmichaels   QB          Ald. Broaddus
Kayne Jackson   Monessen          DE    Notre Dame (Ohio)
Xavier Ellis           Uniontown         QB          Undecided
Alan Pritchett    Ringgold               WR         Navy
Doug Lewis         Uniontown         DB          Undecided
Gino Faieta         Beth-Center       DE           Cal U
Austin Hunter    California             K             Undecided
Collin Smith        Alb.Gallatin      RB      Penn St. Fayette
De-Shawn Holmes  Monessen   RB           Undecided
Ty Aeschbacher      Carmichaels      WR      Ald. Broaddus
Jake Sweitzer    Belle Vernon      TE           Georgetown
Logan Bowman Jeff-Morgan       LB           Undecided
Cory Adams        California             RB           Thiel
Branden Dice     Alb.Gallatin         DB          Thiel
Chris Hlatky        Alb.Gallatin         LB           Undecided
Clintell Gillaspie      Monessen           RB           Lackawanna
Brandon Bowman  Charleroi       LB           Cal U
Tristan Sandrosky   Uniontown    LB          Waynesburg
Thomas Ames   Waynesburg      OL                          
Nick Mattei         Carmichaels        OL           West Virginia
Ty Metcalf           Carmichaels        LB           Cal U
Steven Iams       Trinity                   OL           Waynesburg
Will Benesh        Laurel                    OL           Bethany
Darren Tretnik   Waynesburg      DL           Waynesburg
Tito Cantalamessa  Uniontown  WR         Fairmont State
Dakota Moorer    Charleroi           WR        
Austin Fields      Belle Vernon   OL       6-1      250        

Head coach: Andy Pacak, Monessen
Assistant coaches:
Buddy Yartin                      Jake Yuhasz
Matt Yartin                         Mikey Blainefield
Dale Simpson                     Phil Ingram
Delvin Miller