Deer Lakes, Plum, Riverview hope to learn from midseason setbacks
TribLIVE Sports Videos
At different points this baseball season, Deer Lakes, Plum and Riverview — three teams that entered the preseason as WPIAL title contenders on paper — each experienced humbling losses.
None among the three lost the notion that they still belong among their classification's elite, though.
In the WPIAL playoffs, which begin Monday, the Lancers (14-4), Mustangs (14-5) and Raiders (12-4) will begin their quests to prove that their preseason reputations were more than unsubstantiated hype. Deer Lakes, which shared the Section 3-AA title with Freeport (11-5), earned the highest seed among the Alle-Kiski Valley's seven postseason qualifiers, as it grabbed the No. 5 spot. Plum is the 10 seed in Class AAAA, while Riverview is No. 11 in Class A.
Unlike Deer Lakes, Plum and Riverview, Freeport and Springdale started the year somewhat unheralded, yet both went on to claim shares of section titles. The Dynamos (9-7), co-Section 4-A champions, split their title with North Catholic (8-7) and ended up as a No. 7 seed, while the Yellowjackets received the No. 6 seed in Class AA.
A 12-2 loss at Freeport on April 21 drastically influenced the way Deer Lakes viewed itself. The Lancers have won seven in a row since then, including a 7-4 victory over Freeport.
“To get 10-runned in the middle of the season like that, it certainly woke us up,” Lancers coach Jon Pedrosky said. “I think it put us on a roll and got us more focused. I think we were in too much of a relaxed state, and I think that put us in more of a pressing state, which isn't always a bad thing.”
Springdale had a similarly profound effect on Riverview's season. The Raiders entered their first game against the Dynamos on April 17 with an 8-0 record and led by four runs in the eighth inning but lost 11-10 after Springdale's Adam Lock hit a walk-off grand slam.
Riverview went on to lose three of its next four games, including a rematch with Springdale. But the Raiders rebounded from that slump with three straight wins, including an 8-1 victory over Class A No. 5 seed Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on May 6.
“We know many of those losses are pretty much of our own doing,” Raiders coach Rich Griser said. “We really were never outclassed, though against Springdale, when they came back, you kind of have to tip your cap to them.
“What we learned is you don't want to get too complacent. You want to make sure you're mentally tough the whole way.”
Plum struggled with lapses in focus, too, Mustangs coach Carl Vollmer said. The problem became painfully clear via one-inning stints: the Mustangs allowed nine runs in the first inning of a 12-6 loss to Baldwin and surrendered eight runs in the second inning of an 8-7 loss to Central Catholic.
“I'm sure a lot of people say this, but our season could've been looked at as a very dominant year, if we don't let a couple innings get away from us,” Vollmer said. “We have a good baseball team, but we haven't reached our potential. If we do, we could be dangerous.”
While Deer Lakes, Plum and Riverview worry about the application of lessons learned, Springdale looks to continue the surge it started in early April. Four straight nonsection losses to open the season seemed to set a bleak tone for Springdale, but coach Randy Eaton noted those losses came against Class AAA Yough, Class AA Burrell and Class A's Vincentian Academy and Serra Catholic, who earned the No. 3 and 6 seed, respectively.
“We played some tough competition early ... so we knew that when we went into section play, we'd have the upper hand,” Eaton said. “I don't think anybody knows what they're going to get when they meet us. We're ready to take on anybody.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
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.
- PixController of Murrysville honored by Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania for camera trained on Pittsburgh eagle nest
- Rossi: Pirates must land Lester
- Fallowfield Township increases road crew
- Beloved teacher at 3 Western Pa. schools hears from students across nation
- Steelers hold high hopes for pass defense
- After years of lobbying, Big Ben has Steelers running the no-huddle
- Fire causes Blairsville bar to collapse, flames spread to neighboring building
- Antiques appraiser shares expertise with Mon Valley crowd
- Layoffs possible at 5 state system schools, including Edinboro, Clarion
- Pirates notebook: Trade rumors for Red Sox pitcher Lester still swirling
- Steelers notebook: Brown calls Sanders’ comments about Roethlisberger ‘terrible’