High school notebook: Southern swing provides jump-start for WPIAL teams

| Saturday, March 30, 2013, 11:50 p.m.

Few baseball or softball teams in Western Pennsylvania have had outdoor workouts so far this spring, let alone played a single game thanks to cold temperatures and several inches of snow that continues to melt on fields across the region.

Members of the Peters Township softball team, however, find themselves primed for the 2013 season after completing a 6-0 road trip through Cookville, Tenn., earlier this month.

The Indians, who were 15-5 last season and reached the WPIAL semifinals, defeated Stone Memorial, Tenn., 3-1, in the title game. They outscored opponents, 45-2, in the six wins.

Sophomore pitchers Carly Konopka and Kellyn Perich each earned three wins and two shutouts, with Perich picking up the win in the championship game after striking out 12 batters.

“Considering the weather up here, it was a good opportunity for the team to hit the field,” Peters Township first-year coach Robert Bowers said. “The wins were a bonus.”

The Indians had practiced outdoors, on the stadium turf, just twice before leaving for Tennessee. They spent most of their workouts in the school's gym and the indoor batting cage. In the week since they returned home, they managed to practice outside just once — Saturday on the stadium turf.

“It's kind of monotonous (being inside),” Bowers said. “Everyone wants to get on the field. The whole mindset changes when you get on a field.

“We took 21 girls. We were at the field most of the time. It was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other. I'm a new coach in the district, so (the 12-hour bus ride) was an opportunity for me to spend some time with the kids.”

The Indians aren't the only team getting a jump-start on their WPIAL competition with a trip south.

Baseball teams from Apollo-Ridge (0-1 overall), Bethel Park (3-1), Chartiers-Houston (1-0), Hampton (1-0), Elizabeth Forward (1-0), Keystone Oaks (1-0), Hopewell (1-0), Mars (2-1), OLSH (1-1), Peters Township (3-0), Shady Side Academy (2-1), South Fayette (1-0), South Park (6-0), West Mifflin (3-0) and Vincentian (2-0) played in tournaments in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida.

Softball squads from Brownsville (1-1), Burgettstown (1-2), Carmichaels (2-0), Chartiers-Houston (3-0), Elizabeth Forward (3-0), Franklin Regional (3-1), Mars (0-3), McKeesport (3-0), Montour (1-2), Shenango (1-2), Sto-Rox (1-1) and Waynesburg (2-1) also took advantage of the warm weather locations in southern states to prepare for their section contests.

West Greene opening

The West Greene school board accepted the resignation of football coach John Coss last week, bringing the list of WPIAL coaching vacancies to five.

Coss was 5-22 in three seasons with the Pioneers, including a 4-5 mark last fall. It was his second stint at the school after going 7-13 from 2000-01.

Canon-McMillan, Gateway, Hollidaysburg and Greensburg Salem also are without head football coaches.

They have spirit

The PIAA competitive spirit championships were a big hit in their first year, enough so that the PIAA board of directors will move the event from Hersheypark Arena to Giant Center for the 2014 competition.

This year's event made a $35,000 profit after 96 teams attended. The participation is expected to increase, and the competition could span two days.

Cutting back

There no longer will be two-a-day football practices in Iowa after the state's athletic association set new rules last week to limit teams to one practice per day of no longer than three hours. Alabama, Texas, Florida and Georgia also have similar policies for high school football.

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