A-K Valley athletes of the week: Valley’s Dante Taliani, Apollo-Ridge’s Jocelyn Snyder

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Saturday, May 11, 2024 | 3:14 PM


Jocelyn Snyder

School: Apollo-Ridge

Class: Sophomore

Sport: Softball

Report card: Apollo-Ridge sophomore Jocelyn Snyder tossed a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts and also was 2 for 4 with a double and RBI in an 11-0 nonsection win over Leechburg on Monday. She also was 3 for 3 with a home run, double and five RBIs and was the winning pitcher in a 22-6 win over Brentwood on April 26. The Vikings, who finished the regular season 8-5 overall and 7-3 in Section 2-2A, good for second place, will play Riverside (6-9) in the WPIAL Class 2A first round at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Fox Chapel.

How did the team play against Leechburg on Monday?

We played really well, especially with them being our rival. We strung together hits a lot, which was good. I also had good defense backing me up.

How many no-hitters have you had in your career?

One or two other ones.

How does it feel to throw one?

It felt really good. I knew going into the game, with me being the only pitcher this season, I was trying to keep my pitch count low. I only went to three balls on two of their hitters, so I was able to conserve my energy.

What feels better, a no-hitter or a home run?

A no-hitter feels pretty good, but a home run, nothing feels like it.

What are some things the team is doing well at this point in the season?

We’ve definitely been putting up a lot of runs and stringing together a lot of hits. We only have 12 girls on the team, and we had a few injuries so a lot of people had to step up this entire season.

What will it take to beat Riverside on Tuesday?

I just think we need to play a clean defensive game, be patient in the box an string together some hits.

What do you enjoy most about softball?

I just like the complexity of the sport. I played a few other sports in the past, but softball is such a diverse sport with hitting, running and pitching. I like playing first (base) and pitcher. First is more calmer, and pitching, it feels good to have a weight on your shoulders.

How did you get started playing softball?

My older sister (Jayden) played. I just started playing tee ball. When I was on 10U, I stated playing travel and just really liked it.

Were you always a pitcher?

Yeah. I just liked being involved, especially rec ball when games are slow. Being a pitcher helped speed those up.

What is your favorite home-cooked meal?

Probably burgers.

Do you have a favorite local restaurant?

J&S Pizza in Natrona.

What’s your favorite class?

History.

What celebrity would you like to meet?

Probably Adam Sandler.

What’s your favorite Adam Sandler movie?

“Happy Gilmore.”

What is something people might not know about you?

I have a freckle on my right eye.

Dante Taliani

School: Valley

Class: Sophomore

Sport: Baseball

Report card: Valley sophomore second baseman Dante Taliani hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning Monday to lift the Vikings to a 4-3 win over Deer Lakes. The next day, Taliani doubled in a 6-0 win over the Lancers. Valley, which finished the regular season 16-4 overall and 9-3 in Section 3-3A and as section champion, earned the No. 5 seed for the WPIAL playoffs and will play No. 12 Shenango in the first round Tuesday. Taliani, who hit .316 with nine RBIs as a freshman, also plays on the Burrell hockey team as part of a co-operative agreement.

How did it feel to get the walk-off hit in extra innings on Monday?

It felt good. It couldn’t end in a better way.

What was the pitch and your mindset at the plate?

(It was an) up-and-in fastball. My mindset was just to get the bunt down and see Jules (Julian Danko) coming in hard (to score). It was a safety squeeze with runners on second and third.

How did it feel to win the section title?

It felt good. That was one of our goals. We had it written on a board. It felt really good.

What other goals were on the board?

Have a better record than last year and make playoffs as a high seed.

What are the main factors behind the 11-game winning streak?

Everyone pitching in. Our pitching staff doing a great job. Timely hits and great defense. Just all-around everyone contributing.

What will it take to beat Shenango on Tuesday?

Just a team effort, everyone doing their part. If someone has an off day, just everyone picking him up. Just don’t change a thing.

How did you get started playing baseball?

I was about 4 or 5. My dad helped with a local league, and I just kind of fell in love with it at that point.

What positions are you playing this spring?

Second base, a little bit of catcher and wherever else I’m needed to be.

How does hockey help with baseball?

Hand-eye coordination helps a lot. Just keeping up with it. Conditioning, just being able to constantly be moving and having high energy. And just competing, being one on one and keeping my mind in it.

What is your favorite home-cooked meal?

Italian chicken.

Do you have a favorite local restaurant?

Strange Roots in New Ken.

What’s your favorite class?

Probably pre-calc.

What celebrity would you like to meet?

Sidney Crosby.

How many wins will Paul Skenes have for the Pirates this season?

He should have a lot. He can throw. Probably five-plus.

What is something people might not know about you?

I’m a first-degree black belt in taekwondo. I was about 4 and I kind of saw it and asked my parents about it. I just did it for 11-12 years. I never competed. It was more just learning how to defend myself and learn discipline and how to take a punch and give a punch.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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