A-K Valley High School Notebook: Golfers get set to tee it up; Bucs tab new softball coach

Friday, September 20, 2019 | 6:24 PM

Earlier this week, golfers from around the WPIAL took to the links for an opportunity to qualify for the individual WPIAL tournament next week.

In Class AAA, golfers will compete in two semifinal qualifiers Monday for a chance to earn a spot in the WPIAL championship Oct. 1 at Fox Chapel Golf Club. Four golfers from Fox Chapel will compete in the semifinal qualifier at Willowbrook Country Club.

Junior Aiden Oehrle was the top qualifier for the Foxes at their sectional qualifier. He shot a 74 and will be paired with Franklin Regional’s Chuck Tragresser and Central Catholic’s Carter Pitcairn.

Franklin Regional, Central Catholic and Fox Chapel will fill the first two groups off the tee Monday. Fox Chapel’s Scott Bitar, who qualified with a 75, will play with Central Catholic freshman Rocco Salvitti and Franklin Regional sophomore Jeff Anderchak.

Fox Chapel seniors Amani D’Ambrosio, who qualified with a score of 75, and Will Livingston, who shot a 78 to qualify, will also tee it up at Willowbrook to try and earn a spot.

While the AAA golfers will have to wait until Oct. 1 for their championship opportunity, the AA golfers get to shoot for a WPIAL title Thursday at Allegheny Country Club.

Five AA golfers from the A-K Valley made the cut. Riverview’s Jack Harden (76) and Dan Donatucci (79) will tee off in the second and sixth groups. Leechburg’s Cole Villa (75) and Burrell’s Marcus Pinchok (75) will play together in the eighth group, teeing off at 9:26.

Deer Lakes’ Will Meyer (79) will tee off at 9:02 a.m. with Grae Grossman from Elizabeth Forward and Remmey Lohr from Carmichaels.

New Burrell softball coach

The Burrell School District named its new softball coach Tuesday.

They promoted Rick Nealer, the team’s pitching coach for the last four seasons, to head coach, replacing Brian Eshbaugh, who was the coach since 2015 and retired after last season.

“I’m very excited,” Nealer said. “I enjoy the kids. They are a great bunch of kids, they work hard, they play hard and we have fun. I enjoy coaching those kids.”

Last season, the Bucs went 13-3 overall and won the Section 1-3A crown with a record of 9-1. They fell in the first round of the playoffs to Keystone Oaks.

The Burrell softball program has had a storied history. The Bucs have made the playoffs for the past 14 seasons and Nealer are hoping to continue that tradition.

“We are going to continue what we’ve been doing,” Nealer said. “We’re going work on the basic fundamentals. We lost four seniors, so it’s going to be hard to replace them, but we have some talented girls who will work hard to replace them.”

Nealer said his first goal will be to establish a conditioning program for the winter to get his players faster and stronger so they can hit the ground running.

“I’m excited to get going and work with the girls,” Nealer said. “Hopefully we can continue to play the type of top-level softball we’ve been playing the last four years.”

Big meet in Hershey

Cross country runners won’t travel to Hershey for the state championship meet for another month or so. But some runners from around the area will get a preview of the state meet when they traverse the course Saturday at the 13th annual PIAA Foundation Cross Country Invitational.

Teams from Knoch and Fox Chapel will compete in Saturday’s race, which also includes several top teams from around the state. Fox Chapel’s Christian Fitch placed 18th in the AAA race last year with a time of 16 minutes, 53 seconds. Grace Sisson, also from Fox Chapel, clocked a 19:35 to finish fourth behind teammate Sarena Seeger.

Both seniors have turned in solid seasons so far. Fitch placed second at the Red, White & Blue Classic in early September, and Sisson took seventh.

Races are set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Hershey Parkview.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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