Scholastic Notebook – 04/16/2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Come late May, dont be surprised if the Elizabeth Forward baseball players turn into Champs champs.

The Elizabeth Forward baseball program continues to rise under seventh-year coach Frank Champ. After a breakout season in 2010, the Warriors have been the most dominant Class AAA team so far in 2011.

Elizabeth Forward is 7-0 after defeating Uninotown, 16-3, Friday afternoon. Of the seven wins, four came in Florida at the start of the season. In three games against WPIAL competition, Elizabeth Forward has outscored opponents, 37-3. Overall, the Warriors have outscored their seven opponents, 70-8.

It is an impressive start to the season and the Warriors are MSA Sports No. 1 Class AAA team. It seems strange to call Elizabeth Forward a No. 1 team, considering their baseball history over the past few decades. Last year, the Warriors won a section title for the first time in 27 years and qualified for the PIAA playoffs for the first time in school history. They won a WPIAL postseason game for the first time since 1976 when they defeated Springdale, 4-3, in the WPIAL championship game.

Before last years 21-6 team, Champs previous five teams had a record of 48-48.

While Elizabeth Forwards offense has been impressive, the Warriors have one of the best pitching staffs in Class AAA, led by Dan Altavilla and Tony Totedo. Altavilla is a Mercyhurst recruit was 6-1 with a 2.19 ERA last year.

Streak in Jeoparday?

The North Allegheny baseball team has made the WPIAL playoffs an impressive 25 years in a row. But could that streak come to an end this year?

The Tigers are 1-3 in Section 1 of Class AAAA after losing to Seneca Valley, 8-6, on Friday. North Allegheny blew a 5-1 lead in the game.

It might be too early to count out the Tigers. North Allegheny has come on strong in the second half of the season in some previous years to make the playoffs. The Tigers proved something Thursday with a 4-2 victory over previously undefeated Butler.

But Section 1 is loaded with good teams and North Allegheny cant afford to fall too far behind the leaders of the pack. One thing that has certainly hurt has been the absence of Tanner Wilt on the pitching mound. Wilt, a Coastal Carolina recruit and one of the top pitchers in the WPIAL, has only played first base and been a designated hitter so far this season.

Where the Jumpers Are

Two of the top four Class AAA girls high jumpers are from Shaler. Shannon Powell has cleared 5 feet 4, inches, which ties two others for the best in Class AAA this spring. Also, Shalers Jessica Farrell is fourth with a leap of 5-3.

Powell was a starter on Shalers girls basketball team that won a WPIAL Class AAAA title.

Simmons to Texas Tech

You never heard of Texas Tech recruiting football players from the WPIAL before this past year. But Texas Tech has landed three of the WPIALs top players in the class of 2012.

On Thursday, McKeesport senior defensive tackle Delvon Simmons signed with Texas Tech. Simmons is a highly-rated lineman who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The other two WPIAL players who signed with Texas Tech in February were McKeesport teammate Branden Jackson (DE-LB) and Claritons Desimon Green (DE).

Texas Tech assistant coach Robert Prunty, in his first season in 2010, started recruiting Western Pennsylvania only last summer. He got all three players to visit and ended up with Simmons, Jackson and Green signing.

Simmons signing ended a twisting and turning recruiting saga. He signed in February with the University of North Carolina, even though he never made an official visit to the school. He made an unofficial trip last summer.

But a few days after Simmons signed with UNC, defensive coordinator Brian Baker left to take an assistant coachs job with the Dallas Cowboys. McKeesport coach Jim Ward said Baker was the main reason Simmons chose North Carolina because Baker had a lot of previous NFL coaching experience.

With Bakers departure, Simmons was unhappy and asked for North Carolina to release him from his letter of intent. North Carolina Butch Davis flew to Pittsburgh and met with Simmons at McKeesport. But the Tar Heels eventually gave Simmons his release.

Simmons looked at a few other schools that were on his original list USC and Pitt. He thought about maybe visiting a few other schools, but he would have had to pay for his own visits because he already used up his five official visits.

Some schools were coming in hard that he had not seen, Ward said. But he was out of official visits. He would’ve liked to have seen more schools, but it just wasn’t possible having to pay for it himself.

Simmons went to Pitt one last time last week.

He really liked Pitt and he gave them strong consideration, but he just felt most comfortable at Texas Tech, Ward said. I know Branden going there to Texas Tech was part of Delvon wanting to go there. But it wasn’t the only reason.

Scholar Athletes

South Fayette football star and basketball player Christian Brumbaugh is one of the four winners of the WPIAL Scholar Athlete scholarship.

Each year, the WPIAL gives out four $5,000 scholarships. Brumbaugh finished his football career as the WPIALs all-time leading passer and also was a starter on South Fayette’s basketball team that made it to the WPIAL Class AAA final. The other three winners this year were Bethel Parks Robert Heuler, Fort Cherry’s Danielle Spinden and Freeport’s Anna Christy.

The WPIAL also gives out $500 scholarships to 16 other individuals. The winners of those scholarships were:

Boys Connor Kuremsky, North Allegheny; Michael Kochis, Montour; Michael Blume, Aquinas Academy; Ryan Byers, Southmoreland; Matthew Drabick, Keystone Oaks; Cole Baxter, Butler; Matt Loftis, Serra; Van McCarren, Knoch.

Girls Angela Pelehac, Brownsville; Jenna Gigliotti, Norwin; Micaela Stump, Keystone Oaks; Rachel Hilliard, South Side Beaver; Haley McDonald, Hampton; Michelle Nocera, Ellwood City; Danielle Zajicek, California;

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