Trusting path made by boys basketball team, Kiski Area baseball believes in new coach
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A familiar notion came to Kiski Area senior Ryan Sciullo as he studied the Cavaliers baseball team this preseason.
He noted the new coach. And the promising collection of returning starters. And the perception among program outsiders that Kiski Area isn't a top-tier team this season.
That sounds a lot like the Kiski Area boys basketball team's preseason scenario, Sciullo, a guard this winter, thought to himself.
The Cavaliers on the court, led by first-year coach Joey Tutchstone, exceeded expectations this past season, as they reached the WPIAL semifinals as a No. 13 seed. Sciullo and others believe Kiski Area (3-1, 0-1), under the guidance of new coach Joe Culler, can do the same on the diamond.
“The first three games we played, we can do that all year,” said Sciullo, referencing three wins in which the Cavaliers outscored their opponents 34-8. “We're just trying to get things rolling. We know we can do it.”
Only two starters graduated following a campaign in which Kiski Area finished 4-13 overall and dealt with a midseason coaching change.
“It put a damper on the spirits of some of the guys, but I think we did a pretty good job of trying to finish out the year with that on the table,” said senior Tyler Graham, a co-captain with Sciullo and senior Cam Smail.
Culler, a 2001 Blairsville graduate who was hired in November, succeeded Shawn Schwarz, who served as interim coach in 2013 after Daryl Hixenbaugh resigned midseason to end a five-plus year tenure.
“With Hix, everything had to be professional,” Sciullo said. “This year, we're kind of just out here playing baseball. … We're working on little things and trying to get better, but we're not worried about all the little things that more professional teams worry about. We're just playing high school baseball.”
A high school math teacher in the district, Culler's resume includes more football coaching experience than baseball. He served as a football assistant with Kiski Area for five seasons, while his prior baseball coaching experience was a one-year stint as Cavaliers' freshman coach in 2010.
Culler played college football at Division III powerhouse Mount Union in Ohio, but he shared an anecdote to shed light on his love for baseball: During training camp one season, he drove to Indiana County to pitch in a summer league playoff game.
“I've been all about baseball since I was like 5 years old, so I kind of had to take this opportunity knowing what kind of team was coming back this year and the guys that were going to be added to the equation,” Culler said. “I saw the love for baseball dropping here at Kiski. So my main goal was to get interest back in the game, and then build a team around that interest.”
Because of those season-opening blowouts — two of which came against Class AAAA Gateway and McKeesport — the Cavaliers found themselves operating with a level of confidence rarely enjoyed last season. A 2-1 home loss Monday to Penn-Trafford (4-0, 1-0) that opened Section 2-AAAA play humbled Kiski Area, but there's still considerable faith that a special run is in store.
“We were in a lot of one-run games last year, so this year, teams are kind of taking us for granted,” Smail said. “We just want to come out, kind of underdogs like they were in basketball, and just jump on opponents.”
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.
- Kittanning baseball beats Ford City in rivalry’s final game
- Knoch senior Law making most of chance on baseball diamond
- Norwin’s bats coming alive heading into WPIAL playoffs
- Johnson’s return lifts Sewickley Academy baseball to share of section title
- Garbee helps Quaker Valley baseball clinch section title
- Loss to Yough hurts Southmoreland’s playoff chances
- Franklin Regional baseball turns focus to WPIAL playoffs
- Leopards win two; clinch playoff berth
- New opponents a challenge for Shady Side Academy baseball
- Sewickley Academy baseball aiming for 1st section title
- Connellsville baseball clips Penn-Trafford