Pieces in place for Greensburg Central Catholic softball

Sunday, March 8, 2020 | 6:08 PM

The Greensburg Central Catholic softball team made a return trip to the WPIAL playoffs in 2019, a nice bounce back from a one-win season.

Now, the Centurions will look to take the next step by making a deep playoff run. They feel the right parts — pitching and young talent with playoff experience — are in place.

Last season, GCC finished 9-8 overall and 7-5 in Section 3-A — its first winning season since 2015. The season ended with a 13-3 loss to Bishop Canevin the first round the Class A playoffs.

In his sixth season as coach, Mike Gaffney hopes his new pitchers can compliment the young bats he has returning this season.

“It’s really the first time we’re having pitchers (who) pitch. In the past, we had girls who would throw the ball but now we have actual pitchers,” Gaffney said. “The walks will be down. But defensively, we’re going to be much better. We’re going to definitely score some runs. We have a lot of our power back. Now, we have players back in their natural positions.”

The Centurions will turn to freshman Emma Henry and sophomore Natalie Ward to pitch most, if not all, of the innings.

Henry and Ward will pitch to freshman catcher Isabella Marquez.

Offensively, the Centurions will lean on junior Jaden Cox to provide punch as she takes more of a leadership role.

“Even though we might not have the stellar travel-ball players that many teams have, like Penn-Trafford is filled with travel ball kids. We don’t have that but we’re making it work,” Cox said. “We’re getting better as practices go on, and I’m trying to push that we have to put the work in to be a good team. We don’t have the natural softball player, but we’re working so hard to make this a winning season.”

Gaffney will lean on sophomore Riana Booher, Ward and Cox to make up for the loss of Bella Skatell, who graduated. Skatell paroled the outfield and pitched the past couple of seasons.

Sophomore center fielder Bailey Kuhns, a transfer from Southmoreland, should be a big addition to the outfield.

“She (Skatell) meant so much to our program for the last four years. She was out of position because we needed her to pitch. She was a pretty good outfielder,” Gaffney said. “It’s going to be hard to replace her. It’s going to have to be done by committee. Everybody is going to have to step up and accept a role.”

The Centurions haven’t won a playoff game since 2015.

Gaffney hopes GCC stands tough against section foes. Its section includes Leechburg, who was the WPIAL Class A third-place finisher last season, Springdale, Jeannette, St. Joseph, Ellis School and Geibel.

Last season, the Centurions lost seven games by double digits.

“We want to compete for the section first and trying to make a run in the playoffs. We want to win some playoff games,” Gaffney said. “The goal isn’t to make the playoffs. The goal is to make some noise in the playoffs. That’s what we’re building here. We’re trying to surprise some people.”


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