Road trip brings wins, good memories for Knoch Softball
By Bill Beckner Jr.
Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013, 1:14 a.m.
The first sports team from Knoch ever to play out of state almost didn't want to come home.
Knoch's softball team opened the season with a tournament in Taylor Mill, Ky., about a five-hour drive from Saxonburg.
While the weather wasn't much warmer there, fields were drier and playable, and teams weren't fighting cabin fever while practicing in gymnasiums.
“We took a 15-passenger van. It wasn't the most comfortable ride, but we all jumped in and had a great time,” Knoch coach Tim Knappenberger said. “I don't think there was a boring moment; it's something that really enhanced the high school experience for our girls.”
And while Knoch was rounding third in its fifth game, most of the other WPIAL teams were letting out another collective sigh as they glanced at the 10-day forecast.
But Knoch wasn't the only local team to snub the increasingly annoying Western Pennsylvania weather to get a jump-start on the season — and, potentially, gain a competitive advantage over opponents who were back home twiddling their thumbs and making mud pies.
Mars' softball team played four games at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
The road trips were more than spring training for local teams, especially since they returned to more drab conditions and to the reality that many WPIAL teams still were 0-0 in the standings.
Play has since picked up, albeit slowly.
At one point last week, Knoch had played more games than any baseball or softball team in the WPIAL.
Advantages were gained by playing early, particularly in terms of strategy and simply getting acquainted with teammates in actual outdoor game situations.
Knoch won four of five games against Kentucky teams while hitting .433 with 57 runs. It reached the championship game of the 16-team tournament.
“This is my fifth year coaching, and that was the best experience we've ever had,” Knappenberger said. “I would consider it a perfect trip for everyone involved.”
Teams were greeted with much of the same uncertainty when they returned home.
Knoch had three games scheduled for the week it returned but all of them were canceled.
Booster clubs funded the road trips, with most of the costs covered by fundraising.
Knoch chipped away the old-fashioned way with bake sales, raffles, “and we had a Pets with Santa Night and sold candy canes,” Knappenberger said. “We're hoping to do this trip every year.”
Knappenberger said a parent of one of his players discovered the Kentucky tournament.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.