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After eight-win season, Southmoreland baseball expects even more

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 1:01 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Mitch Ridenour takes a cut during a practice on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at Southmoreland High School.

When Brian Shipley took over Southmoreland's baseball team last season, the Scotties were mired in a 28-game losing streak and had lost 49 of their past 52 games.

Shipley didn't work miracles, but he did manage to convince his team to buy into a simple mantra.

“We've been preaching to the kids to give 100 percent at practice and during games,” Shipley said. “They've been pretty committed since then.”

The hard work paid off as Southmoreland came up just two runs short of a playoff spot. Most of that team is back, and Shipley sees no reason his club can't improve on last year's eight wins.

“Before last year, they didn't have much success, but then they found out that hard work and dedication to the sport can translate into wins and individual success,” Shipley said.

Shipley is looking for production and leadership from a group of seniors that includes Justin Kubicek, Mitch Ridenour, Tyler Wisniewski, Zac Ripple, A.J. Gaffney and Ben Hoadwonic.

Southmoreland's pitching staff is still a work in progress. Back is sophomore Michael Baird, who won four games last season. Also expected to see innings are Kubicek, junior Brian Schaeffer, sophomore Max Ridenour and freshman Doug Leighty.

“(The rotation) is up in the air,” Shipley said. “It all depends on how well they do in our exhibitions and scrimmages. All of that's taken into account. The rotation could even change during the season depending on who can get the job done.”

Southmoreland will face a lot of new competition after realignment moved the Scotties into Section 4-AA. Joining Southmoreland in Section 4-AA will be East Allegheny, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny and Steel Valley.

“It's hard to tell what the section is going to be like because we weren't in a section with any of these teams last season,” Shipley said. “But I look for it to be balanced and competitive. Baseball is good now in the WPIAL at every level, and I expect the section to be the same. There's no easy wins.”

Southmoreland's first section game is April 3 at Jeannette.

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