Unbeaten Quaker Valley baseball team not celebrating yet

Quaker Valley's Ben Utterback winds up for a pitch against Southmoreland on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at PNC Park.
Quaker Valley's Ben Utterback winds up for a pitch against Southmoreland on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at PNC Park.
Photo by Kristina Serafini I Sewickley Herald
Nathan Smith
| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

After the Quaker Valley baseball team defeated Ambridge, 6-2, last week to wrap up a perfect regular season, there was no cheering. There was no Gatorade shower or much celebrating if any kind.

It was just business as usual.

“We don't talk about records,” Quaker Valley coach Todd Goble said. “We don't talk about stats. We talk about the team ahead of us. That is our focus, and the team has done it extremely well.”

The win over the Bridgers pushed the Quakers record to 18-0. The team's 14-0 mark in Section 1-AA qualified the team for the playoffs and earned the Quakers their first section title and playoff berth since 2006.

Quaker Valley finished the final week of the regular season with three games — Section 1-AA wins over Avonworth, 11-1, and Seton-La Salle, 10-3, along with the nonsection win over Ambridge. The team welcomed the busy week as it prepared for the playoffs.

“It keeps us game ready, which is always good,” senior outfielder Nelson Westwood said. “You never want to not play for an extended period of time where you're not seeing constant pitches.

“We try to replicate it in practice but nothing matches a pitcher in a real game.”

Finishing the regular season unscathed is a big accomplishment for a team that had not been to the WPIAL playoffs since 2006, but it has not been brought up in the dugout.

“We haven't said too much about it,” senior shortstop T.J. Kuny said. “There has been some recognition here and there. We have been trying to be humble and do what we do best.”

And what the team does best is play an all-around game.

The Quakers are bolstered by a strong presence at the plate — the team is averaging nearly nine runs per game. They have scored five or more runs in every game this season, with the lone exception being a 4-0 season-opening win over Cornell.

“We have done really well at putting the ball in play,” Goble said. “You see guys run every ball out in every situation. They are busting their tail to get to first and put pressure on the defense.”

Defensively, the team has recorded five shutouts and is giving up just over two runs per game. The solid defense can be credited to an experienced group in the field and also to a deep pitching rotation. The Quakers have seven arms at their disposal and all have seen action this season.

“I thought we had the defense and batting to put us into contention,” Westwood said. “But it was the pitching that stepped up and showed that we can compete with the best Double-A teams.”

The 2013 season was Goble's first on the QV bench and it has set expectations high. While some will credit the change in the dugout, the first-year coach credits his group of seniors, which includes Clayton Bouchard, Ryan Dickson, Matt Durant, Shane Emory, Jake Pilewicz, Kuny and Westwood.

“I don't think anyone could of been in a better situation than I was with these seven seniors,” Goble said. “These guys are quality people. They are great young men and great leaders. This is their team and they have done an outstanding job of leading it.”

And for those seven seniors, the 2013 season finally rewards them for their past seasons of work for the program. From going 6-11 their freshmen year to missing the playoffs after falling in the final game of 2012, they are enjoying every play of their final season.

“It feels awesome,” Kuny said. “It is the last year we could do make the playoffs and we did it.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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