Scholastic Notebook – 06/06/2014
Friday, June 6, 2014 | 10:15 PM
Connor Coward’s right arm has been a major part of Seneca Valley’s turnaround story and march through the postseason.
But Coward’s bat is also starting to be a big factor.
Coward is a senior pitcher-shortstop for Seneca Valley. He is one of the top pitchers in the WPIAL, but he pitched only one inning in the regular season because of a stress fracture in his back.
Besides that one inning in the season opener, Coward didn’t pitch, hit or play the field the rest of the regular season and Seneca Valley finished 6-11, squeaking into the WPIAL playoffs. But Coward came back for the WPIAL playoffs and was the winning pitcher in the quarterfinals, semifinals and title game. He got a save in the first round of the PIAA playoffs Monday against Moon and was the winning pitcher again in the PIAA quarterfinals Thursday against DuBois.
Now about his hitting. He had two hits, a sacrifice fly and three RBIs in Thursday’s PIAA quarterfinals against DuBois. He was 1 for 3 with a double in the victory against Moon. He had the go-ahead RBI in the WPIAL championship victory against Baldwin.
“He has always been a good hitter,” said Seneca Valley coach Eric Semega. “It’s just like the pitching. It took him some time to get back in the groove on the mound, but now look at him. It is the same with hitting. Now he’s helping us tremendously at both ends [hitting and pitching].”
About the Semifinals
Seneca Valley is the only WPIAL baseball team that has made it to the PIAA semifinals. The Raiders play Conestoga Monday at Greene Township Park in Scotland, Pa., near Chambersburg.
It is doubtful that Coward will start. He pitched seven innings against DuBois and he would be going on only three days rest.
Whoever pitches will face a Conestoga team that beat Red Land, 10-6, in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Conestoga trailed, 5-4, after six innings, but scored six runs in the top of the seventh.
It will also be interesting to see who Conestoga starts. Brendon Little is a 6-foot-2 junior right-hander who has committed to the University of North Carolina. He started against Red Land, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings.
You can bet the fans of the Greensburg-Salem softball team have heard their hearts in their throats a few times this postseason.
Greensburg-Salem has made it to the PIAA Class AAA semifinals and every game has been a heartstopper. Five of the Lions’ six postseason games have been decided by one run. The other contest was decided by two runs.
Greensburg Salem is 4-1 in those one-run games, including a 2-1 victory against Thomas Jefferson in the PIAA quarterfinals Thursday. Madison Hantz hit her first home run of the season in the top of the seventh to pull out the win.
The other one-run wins for Greensburg-Salem were 1-0 against Central Valley, 2-1 against West Allegheny and 2-1 against Elizabeth Forward. The loss was to Thomas Jefferson, 4-3, in the WPIAL semifinals.
Greensburg-Salem plays in the PIAA semifinals Monday against Springfield-Delco.
Neshannock is the other WPIAL softball team still alive in the PIAA playoffs. The Lancers play Claysburg-Kimmel in the Class A semifinals Monday. A victory will send Neshannock to Penn State for a championship game for the third consecutive year. That hasn’t happened often in the PIAA championships.
Coach Who Wears a Collar
The players on the Elk County Catholic answer to a father, and we’re not talking about a parent.
Elk County Catholic’s coach is a priest. Father Eric Vogt has guided Elk County Catholic to four consecutive District 10 Class A championships. The Crusaders defeated Carmichaels, 10-0, in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals Thursday.
Clash of Traditional Powers
If tradition means anything, then there couldn’t be a much better state championship match in boys volleyball than North Allegheny vs. Central York Saturday.
The two meet in the PIAA Class AAA final at Penn State at 1 p.m. Between the two, there are 23 championship appearances and 10 state titles.
This is the 14th PIAA championship appearance for North Allegheny, which ties for the most in Pennsylvania history. North Allegheny has won five championships.
This is the 11th championship appearance for Central York. The team has also won five titles and two of them came with victories against North Allegheny in 1982 and 2011.
Ambridge is the other WPIAL team in a PIAA championship. The Bridgers meet Northeastern at 11 a.m. at Penn State in the Class AA final.
Tipton Changes Mind
Our scholastic notebook earlier this week originally had a note about Apollo-Ridge football player Tre Tipton making a verbal commitment to the University of Toledo. But Tipton backed out of that commitment the day after he made it.
Reports said Tipton (WR-DB) made the decision about Toledo too quickly last weekend. He called Toledo a day or so later saying he wanted to back out of his commitment.
Then a day or so later, Tipton was offered a scholarship by Michigan State. But Tipton hasn’t made up his mind yet.
More Baseball• With college choice made, Norwin lefty Jayden Walker itching to pitch
• With young roster, Deer Lakes boys are hoping to return to playoffs in 2020
• Pro baseball dreams carry Penn Hills catcher to Maine
• Murrysville Star high school notebook: Franklin Regional baseball standouts pick colleges
• Blackhawk baseball coach Bob Amalia dies