A-K Valley high school notebook: Deer Lakes, Plum baseball heading south

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | 9:54 PM

Forget going south for the winter. A pair of Alle-Kiski Valley baseball teams are doing it to get a head start on spring.

Deer Lakes and Plum will open their seasons Friday in warmer climates: Deer Lakes in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Plum in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“We're obviously excited,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. “We know regardless of the weather here, we know we're going to be playing in a week.”

With a cold and precipitation-heavy winter leaving fields in less-than-ideal playing shape, many baseball and softball teams are spending much of their practice time indoors — or, if they venture outdoors, on a turf football field. And although the season is scheduled to begin Friday, wintry weather in the forecast this week could mean a delayed opening day.

That won't be a problem for Deer Lakes and Plum. The Lancers are traveling to Myrtle Beach for the second consecutive spring and will play four games between Friday and Sunday. The Mustangs have made the Florida trip an annual one, and after a pair of scrimmages Thursday, will play three official games before returning home.

“We have boosters that are helpful, and the kids work hard to get an opportunity to go down there and play,” Vollmer said. “We're excited.”

Playing for charity

A quartet of Alle-Kiski Valley basketball players were selected for the ITPS Cancer Sucks Charity Classic, scheduled for noon-9 p.m. March 31 at Chatham. The games — two featuring seniors and two featuring underclassmen — will pit Pennsylvania players against West Virginia, and will raise money for cancer research.

Fox Chapel senior Carson Cohen, a Tufts recruit, and Freeport senior Ben Beale, a Penn State Behrend recruit, will play in the senior games.

Freeport sophomore Isiah Bauman and Highlands sophomore Johnny Crise were picked for the underclassmen games, which are facing some uncertainty amid the question of whether they're considered all-star games. PIAA bylaws dictate that underclassmen who participate in an all-star game face a one-year suspension in that sport.

Second to one

With a strong core returning from a deep playoff run, Deer Lakes is among the favorites in WPIAL Class AA volleyball this spring.

The initial Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll, released Monday, ranked Deer Lakes as the No. 2 team in WPIAL Class AA.

The Lancers return six all-section players from last season, when they finished as WPIAL runner-up behind Beaver County Christian and advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals. That group includes a pair of all-WPIAL selections in senior hitters Dan Hutchinson and Tyler Osselborn.

Deer Lakes opens its season Friday by hosting Armstrong.

Recruiting roundup

Leechburg senior basketball player Christian Hack will take his game to the next level, as the guard committed to play for Carlow. An inside-outside threat, Hack led the Blue Devils in scoring to help them reach the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals and the first round of the PIAA playoffs. He will graduate with more than 1,000 career points.

• Chase Villani had some Division II interest and scholarship offers, but the Fox Chapel senior instead will make his own way at the Division I level. The all-conference linebacker accepted a preferred walk-on offer from Pitt. Villani, who transferred back to Fox Chapel from Shady Side Academy as a senior, led the playoff-qualifying Foxes with 96 tackles and added four sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also rushed for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Former Fox Chapel star Quintin Wirginis is a redshirt senior and projected starting linebacker at Pitt in 2018.

Apollo-Ridge senior Kyle Fitzroy signed with Mercyhurst for football. A three-year starter at quarterback, Fitzroy passed for 639 yards and six touchdowns before suffering an injury to his throwing hand at midseason that forced a move to wide receiver. He added 26 tackles and five sacks as a defensive end.

Washington & Jefferson made a double dip at Highlands, as twins Marcus and Mario Sienko committed to play football for the Presidents. The seniors provided the bookends for Highlands' offensive line last season, with Mario Sienko at left tackle and Marcus at right tackle. They helped keep quarterback Seth Cohen upright as the first-year starter passed for 2,000 yards.

Burrell senior Seth Tatrn committed to Westminster for football. Tatrn took over at quarterback for the graduated Max Garda and passed for 764 yards and five touchdowns, adding another 130 yards and six scores on the ground. He also had 27 tackles on defense.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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