Southmoreland baseball taking remarkable resurgence in stride

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Thursday, April 15, 2021 | 6:35 PM


When Southmoreland upset No. 5 Waynesburg to open the WPIAL baseball season, the Scotties did not have a ticker-tape parade through downtown Scottdale.

When the Scotties beat the same Raiders team two days in row, the observance again was slight.

A few fist- and chest-bumps sufficed — for now.

“Nothing surprises me,” junior first baseman Kory Ansall said. “With the talent we have, there’s no doubt we are contenders. We are here to show that we aren’t the same old Southmoreland, like some people say.”

Apparently, the Scotties are not going to celebrate until they break through. The little things matter, but the team has a who’s-next mentality going right now. They took down another ranked opponent Tuesday with an 11-7 win over No. 4 Brownsville. The Scotties (5-1) have as many wins as they had from 2017-19.

Old-school coach Al Govern, a flag-carrying proponent of fundamentals and small ball, was surprised, conversely, when his players showed some excitement over winning four games in 2019. While an improvement over a winless ’17 season and two-win showings in ’16 and ’18, Govern wanted his team’s reach to extend a little farther, its expectation to expand.

The Scotties, who sit atop Section 4 at 3-0, were close in a lot of games two years ago, but could not finish the job. One-run losses and extra inning defeats were common.

Govern thinks this group could turn the tide.

Southmoreland has not made the WPIAL playoffs since 2008, the year it posted a school-record 10 wins.

“Nothing has surprised me this season,” Govern said. “I know these guys had it in them. What has impressed me is they finally bought in. We’re playing solid defense, we have good pitching, we’re moving runners, stealing bags, and winning the innings we play.”

The Scotties had only committed six errors through four games.

Junior Anthony Govern has been an effective two-way contributor as a hitter and pitcher. He was hitting .444 and had given up five hits over 11⅔ innings with 22 strikeouts.

Senior Mason Basinger had struck out 15 in 11 innings, while junior Brok Potoka was hitting .357 and fanned 10 on the mound. Senior Ben Zimmerman had 10 stolen bases and Ansell had driven in five.

Freshmen Kadin Keefer had one save and helped spark a rally in a 6-4 win over Greensburg Central Catholic. Another freshman, David Billheimer, also has been a bright spot.

“The main thing that I’m impressed with is how everyone has stepped up each game and each inning,” the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Ansell said. “It shows that there’s no quit in the team, and that we have a great group all around.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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