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Southmoreland baseball team displays improvement, potential for more

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When Brian Shipley takes a look at the Southmoreland baseball program, he sees a lot of talent and potential.

There are just some areas were some improvements need to be made, the coach said, and the program could be on its way to some special achievements.

The team just finished its 2013 campaign with a 9-11 record. That's a far cry from 2011 when the Scotties did not post a single win.

But Shipley feels the team can improve even more.

“I thought we were going to do a little better,” Shipley said. “We struggled being consistent all year. We were competitive in most games, gave ourselves chances to win, but we made some mistakes at crucial times. We pretty much hurt ourselves. The only team to beat us was ourselves.”

Shipley did see a lot of positives. It was a team he said that never quit. It was a team that saw some underclassmen play key roles, and it was team that ended the season playing pretty well.

The Scotties won four of their last five games and averaged more than 10 runs a game in those contests.

“For the most part, we played with everybody the last few weeks,” Shipley said. “There is some talent. They just need to work on some things. We're trying to put things together. We're going in the right direction, we're not there yet.”

Shipley said the Scotties pitching was consistent throughout the year, but there were struggles both offensively and defensively.

“We just didn't field the ball,” Shipley said. “We had a lot of errors on routine plays. Our pitching was good enough to win, we just didn't do it defensively, didn't do it offensively. Our pitchers are not overpowering guys. They throw strikes. We have to rely on our defense, We didn't do that. We left our pitchers out there throwing, 30, 40, 50 more pitches than they needed to. We have to catch a few more balls here and there.”

He said Tyler Wisniewski, a senior outfielder, paced the offense with a batting average near .500 and played nearly flawless defense with only one error charged to him all season.

Another consistent performer with the bat was freshman Doug Leighty who batted .386. Leighty played third base, first base and also took the mound on occasion.

“As a freshman, he did well,” Shipley said. “You expect seniors and juniors to do well. When you have a freshman being the second leading hitter on the team, that's saying something.”

A highlight of the campaign came when the Scotties played Quaker Valley April 7 played at PNC Park, a 5-3 loss to the top seed in the Class AA playoffs.

“It's wonderful for the kids, everyone gets to set foot on the field,” Shipley said. “It's something they can always remember. There's nothing like it.”

As for the future, Shipley said the key will be what is done in the offseason. In his mind that is when the first steps are taken on the road to success.

“There's a lot to work on,” he said. “It's hard to get them March 4 and expect to work miracles in a week. Good teams are playing year-round. If we can do that, we'll be competitive. If we can play competitively year-round, we'll be a strong program.”

Shipley said that will be the key, playing in the fall and the summer and keeping baseball activities going even if that person participates in another sport.

There are blocks from which to build. Only seven seniors leave a roster of 23 players.

“We're heading in the right direction,” Shipley said. “We can't do everything. We have to almost rely on outside help to try to get stuff done.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or