A-K Valley high school notebook: Cappa throws her way into Riverview record book

Friday, March 29, 2019 | 9:31 PM

Alyssa Cappa went after Riverview’s strikeout record during one of her handful of pitching appearances last season.

Actually getting the mark came down to not trying for it.

Cappa, a junior, tied Jen Kumar’s school record for strikeouts in a game by fanning 17 Valley batters in a 10-7 victory on Thursday.

“I really did not think I had that many,” Cappa said. “I thought I only had like a few. I didn’t even realize what I was doing, how I was throwing. I was just in the heat of the game.”

In fact, news of the record-tying performance didn’t come to Cappa until later in the evening: “It was a shock,” she said.

Cappa pitched all seven innings, allowing seven runs — several of which were unearned — and getting the win when Michaela Collins launched a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh inning.

After pitching 60 innings as a freshman, Cappa spent much of last season behind the plate as the Raiders’ starting catcher, although she did post a 1.63 ERA in 34 1/3 innings in the circle. Top pitcher Carys Kenny-Howell graduated after last season, causing Cappa to move back to the circle.

Cappa credited pitching trainer Rick Nealer for helping her improve. Nealer, who works with Burrell’s softball team, helped Cappa add a two-seam fastball and perfect her rise ball, giving her five pitches to use in the circle.

“Honestly, he’s been working with me like crazy,” Cappa said. “I learned some new pitches, and they were working (Thursday).”

Good Knights

Knoch’s baseball team has its own term to describe walk-off wins like Thursday’s 6-5 victory over Deer Lakes: Knoch-off. But by any name, the Knights are finding ways to win in big spots.

Thursday’s game was Knoch’s second one-run win in three days, following the Knights’ 10-9 victory over Riverside in their season opener Tuesday.

Both games were seesaw battles: Knoch (2-0) led Riverside 3-0 early, fell behind after Riverside’s four-run top of the third, answered with a seven-run bottom of the third to retake the lead at 10-4 and then held on after Riverside responded with a five-run fourth. Against Deer Lakes, the Knights led 1-0, then went down 3-1, went back ahead at 5-3, saw Deer Lakes tie the score and finally won the game on Braden Tistani’s infield single in the bottom of the seventh.

“I prefer this one than the one on Tuesday because we were just sloppy on Tuesday,” Knoch coach Sean O’Donnell said after Thursday’s win. “Today was a cleaner game — cleaner, not 100 percent clean. But I like the lower-scoring games better.

“It’s still early in the season. I tell them before every game we’re going to make mistakes. Hopefully, it’s the physical mistakes and not the mental mistakes. It’s just our second game. These guys have some growing to do. I think they’re going to be good.”

Deer Lakes dodgeball

Deer Lakes is hosting a dodgeball tournament next month as its athletes try to bring awareness to mental health.

The tournament, which will take place April 27 in the high school gymnasium, features three divisions: grades 3-5, which will play at noon; grades 6-8, which will play at 2:30 p.m., and grades 9-12, which will play at 6 p.m. and must have coed teams.

Registration details will be released at a later date. All proceeds will go to mental health awareness campaigns.

Derby day

Emmerling Park in Cheswick will play host to a Junior Home Run Derby from 3-5 p.m. April 13, with winners potentially qualifying for the national finals held during the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities in Cleveland, Ohio, in July.

Participation in the event is free for boys and girls ages 12 and under and 14 and under. More than 20,000 children across the country will compete in local qualifiers in an attempt to make it to Cleveland. Joe Schulte, a 14-year-old from Cheswick, qualified for the 2017 national championship held in Miami, Fla.

For more information on the event, including a registration form, visit www.pittsburghoptimist.com.

Extra Point

Knoch’s home football game Oct. 11 against Northwest Eight Conference opponent New Castle will be televised on 22 the Point as part of its “Friday Night Rivals” series, the network announced Friday. The network broadcasts one game each week during the regular season.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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