Strong senior class left mark on Chartiers Valley baseball program with section title

Sunday, June 25, 2023 | 10:45 AM

Success is measured in various ways. All WPIAL baseball programs would love to do what Riverside did and win every game played, but various victories and achievements are what determine the success of a season when all is said and done.

The Chartiers Valley baseball team finished 14-7 this spring and earned a share of the Section 3-4A title with 2022 WPIAL Class 4A champion West Mifflin.

“Truthfully, I look at the season as a success program-wide — from the freshman team having success, to the JV team having such a strong season, as well as our varsity program,” Chartiers Valley assistant coach Aaron Kellington said. “The initial goal from the end of the last season was to win a section title, then a WPIAL, and finish it off with a state title. Our kids worked so hard in the offseason. Everyone feels like our season was cut short.”

Another of head coach Curt Cairns’ assistants, Brett Willner, agrees with Kellington.

“I would summarize the season as a major success for our kids,” he said. “Even though we fell short of our overall goal of winning a WPIAL championship and state championship, we were able to win a very tough section in 4A that involved top-ranked West Mifflin. I was proud of the way we competed day in and day out and throughout the year proved we could play and compete with anybody. That was a major step forward in our program.”

The final regular season win for the Colts was a 5-2 nonsection victory over eventual WPIAL 6A champion and state runner-up Mt. Lebanon.

This was a senior-laded Chartiers Valley team that had contributions up and down the lineup every game.

“A lot of players had major roles in our success this season,” Willner said. “Joey Vanzin really set the tone with his outstanding pitching. To have an ERA under one throughout the season speaks to his strong work ethic he carried every single day. Tyler Zallenick, Brendan Cruz and Ryan Bioni were fantastic all year on the mound, and we knew going in that these four would keep us in every single game, give us a chance to win each game.

“Justin Ferrari, one of my favorite kids I have coached and one of the hardest workers I have seen, also made a major impact on our team. He led the team in home runs and collectively had a really good year at the plate. That at-bat against West Mifflin when he hit a go-ahead home run will be something he remembers for the rest of his life and led us to a section title.”

Seniors Charlie Caputo, Kyle Witte, Kacey Threats, Layne Lesko and Owen Taylor all contributed at the plate and on defense consistently for the Colts.

“My daughter Brooke graduated this year from CV, so I’ve known these kids since grade school,” Kellington said. “I have had them at my house and have done things with most of them since they were in third or fourth grade. It’s a special class for sure. They all will be missed.”

Kellington provided the team with some extra incentive going into the final section series of the regular season, a first-place showdown with West Mifflin.

“The deal we made in the fall to the kids was that if we won the section title, I would treat the team and staff to dinner,” Kellington said. “The kids at the time chose The Capital Grill. What a great night that was. Everyone dressed up and we went downtown and all had great food and laughed and had a blast as a team.”

While the section-title goal was accomplished, the WPIAL and PIAA championships were dashed after a district quarterfinals loss to Latrobe to end Chartiers Valley’s season.

“I was proud of the way we competed and give a lot of credit to Latrobe. They are a very fundamentally sound baseball team,” Willner said. “We had a chance to win that game but just did not do enough with the bats, and Latrobe made the necessary plays that we did not in the field. Definitely stung because we had big aspirations and expectations to go much further, but that is baseball. Definitely sparks motivation to get back in that situation next year and go for a title.”

Chartiers Valley will be more or less starting from scratch next spring with so many seniors moving on from the program. Success may be measured differently for the Colts in 2024, but the goals will remain lofty.

“It is going to be tough, for sure, to replace the seniors, especially when you have 13 of them,” Kellington said. “Luckily, we have some really good players in the pipeline. We will depend on the new seniors as well as the juniors and some sophomores to lead the charge.”


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