Wild Things look to rebound in 2014 season
Unfortunately for local baseball fans it is another off-season of discontent for the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League.
The Wild Things will prepare for its 13th season in 2014 after enduring a fifth consecutive season of finishing below .500 in 2013. Washington has not been to the league playoffs since finishing second in 2007, which marked the team's sixth consecutive playoff appearance. The Wild Things also reached the league championship season during the franchise's inaugural 2002 season and have been named the Frontier League's Organization of the Year three times.
Washington finished the 2013 season with a 41-55 overall record under first-year manager Bart Zeller and 15 games behind Eastern Division champion Lake Erie. The Wild Things opened the season by going 10-4, which was the second best start in franchise history. At one stretch this past summer the team lost 21 of 31 games.
“We hung in there each and every night, and fought every inning, gave the opponents no time to rest, and on many occasions, made it very exciting right down to the last out,” said the 72-year-old Zeller. “It just did not happen this year.”
Over the past five years the Wild Things cumulative record is 208-270 (.435) after going 48-48 overall in 2008.
During the team's first six playoff years, Washington made the playoffs each season with five division titles and two championship round appearances. The Wild Things led the Frontier League each of their first five seasons in single-season victories with 59, 63, 62, 54 and 56 wins. Washington won 55 games in 2007.
Two individual standouts this past year were A.J. Nunziato, who was third in the league with 26 doubles and led all shortstops in fielding percentage. Washington's top pitcher was Dayne Quist, who went 8-4 overall with a 3.16 ERA.
Another positive was that for the second time in their existence, the Wild Things hosted the Frontier League All-Star Game this past July. The Western Division defeated the Eastern Division, 4-2, but the Wild Things and Consol Energy Park put on a commendable week of events. Several highlights included a softball clinic and exhibition softball game with the Akron Racers, a professional women's softball team, the Home Run Derby, a community activity with Habitat for Humanity, a luncheon with keynote speaker Steve Blass and an illustrious fireworks display at the conclusion of the game.
Charleroi HOF adds 9
The Charleroi Athletic Hall of Fame inducted nine new members who were recognized before the Cougars' football team's home game against Washington on Sept. 13.
In alphabetical order, the 2013 class consisted of Fran Celachi '56 (baseball player and coach), Debbie Fallenstine '79 (basketball), Gary Hogan '60 (football), John Hostetler '63 (football and basketball, Dick Kujawski '66 (football), brothers Mike '71 (football, track and wrestling) and Martin '71 (football and track) Matyas, Lew Rawls '68 (football and track) and Bill Wagner '97 (basketball).
Hogan and Hostetler are also members of the Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame
Charleroi's Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee included Ruth Corrin, Jack Jacobs, Kevin Lee, Stan Milchovich, Bruno Pappasergi and athletic director Bill Wiltz.
Soccer hall adds 1
Charleroi's soccer Hall of Fame celebrated its 25th year by making Deiter Laskey its 47th member Sept. 28 during halftime festivities at the Cougars' home game against McGuffey.
A 1997 Charleroi graduate and four-year letterman, Laskey was a two-time all-section selection and the team captain in 1996.
Now an industrial painter, Laskey also played for the Dunlevy and Beadling soccer teams and was part of five state championship teams and two Region 1 USUSA title teams.
Bruce Wald is a contributing writer.