Apollo-Ridge's Percic, Kittanning's Schall named Leader Times Baseball, Softball Players of the Year
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Apollo-Ridge, Junior, third base/pitcher
Mike Percic didn't post the biggest numbers among Armstrong County players, but his contribution was a big reason Apollo-Ridge baseball hit unfamiliar heights this spring.
As a junior hitting in the clean-up spot, Percic led the Vikings with a .350 average and .725 slugging percentage, four home runs and 17 RBIs — all best on the team — and he was second with 13 runs scored.
When Percic wasn't at the hot corner defensively, he was part of Apollo-Ridge's three-man pitching rotation, where he had a 3-1 record and 3.69 ERA in 24 2⁄3 innings pitched.
His biggest achievement was of the team variety, however, as the Vikings won their final three section games to clinch their first playoff berth in 21 years.
Percic made his biggest mark in those final games against fellow playoff contenders. He was on the hill for 6 1⁄3 strong innings and had a homer and four RBIs when the Vikings knocked off perennial power Burrell, and two days later, his two-run single started the offense in a playoff-clinching win at Ford City.
For his contribution to a historic year for Apollo-Ridge baseball, Percic is the 2014 Leader Times Baseball Player of the Year.
Did you expect to have such a strong year hitting the ball?
Yeah, it felt good. It helped to have someone like Mitch (Johnston) hitting right ahead of me in the lineup. He'd really set the tone, and I'd try to match or do better than him.
What was the feeling like after clinching a playoff spot?
That was one of the best feelings ever. We expected one of our closest games (against Ford City), and we were able to 10-run them. We were a little surprised, but it was the greatest ride home ever.
You lost in the playoffs to eventual champ Steel Valley. Does that build confidence for next year?
At the time, it hurt to lose 1-0 on an error, but when we saw how far they went, it made us feel better to hold them to one run.
How high are expectations for next year?
We've set them pretty high with only four seniors this year and all three of our main pitchers back. We all play on the same summer team, and everyone is just getting stronger for next year.
With what Apollo-Ridge has done in sports recently, do you feel next year will be a special senior class for the school?
I think this was the first year in 22 that all five boys teams went into the postseason. With so many juniors on those teams, I think there's a pretty strong chance that we can do it again.
Blake Bower Ford City, JR., 3B
Bower's .376 average led the Sabers for a second straight year, and his arm made him one of the top fielders.
Zane Dudek Kittanning, Fr., CF
Dudek was second on the team with 10 runs and eight RBIs out of the leadoff spot, and he added a team-high nine steals.
Mike Fennell Ford City, Sr., C
Fennell batted .307 as the Sabers' clean-up hitter and was a steady hand behind the plate for an inexperienced Ford City team.
David Ferrier West Shamokin, Sr., 2B
Ferrier led the Wolves through a tough year, batting .343 with seven runs, both team highs.
Sam Keibler Kittanning, Jr., 2B
Keibler batted .469 with nine doubles, scored a team-high 12 runs and had eight more hits than any other Wildcats player.
Tyler Kepple Karns City, Sr., P/SS
Kepple, a second team all-KSAC pick, was one of the two go-to pitchers and the leadoff hitter for a Gremlins team that repeated as D-9 champ.
Noah Shannon Freeport, Sr., RF
Shannon had a breakout year with a .468 average, and he led Freeport with 21 RBIs and 20 runs in another playoff year.
Matt Swartz Freeport, Sr., 1B
Swartz moved out from behind the plate to play first base this year, and he still hit .408 with 15 RBIs, 17 runs and five doubles.
Matt Yough Karns City, Jr., P/SS
Yough was twice an all-KSAC pick as a first-team pitcher and third-team infielder, and the Gremlins' ace also batted .562.
Kittanning, Sr., 1B
Apollo-Ridge, Sr., OF/2B
Apollo-Ridge, Sr., 1B
Karns City, Sr., OF
Leechburg, Sr., C
Freeport, So., P
West Shamokin, Jr., OF
Kittanning, Sr., C
Redbank Valley, So., OF
Ford City, Jr., P
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kittanning, Senior, Shortstop
When things happened for Kittanning softball, you could expect that Terra Schall was in the middle of it.
The Wildcats' senior was always involved on defense as a four-year fixture at shortstop, and with her combination of power and speed, Schall was an all-around threat in the leadoff spot of coach Tom Emminger's lineup.
Schall's outstanding offensive numbers started with the best batting average of any Armstrong County player this season, .574. She did more than simply reach first, however, as 14 of her 31 hits went for extra bases.
One of just three seniors on Kittanning's team, Schall scored 17 runs, had 13 RBIs and stole four bases, all while capably manning one of the toughest defensive positions.
Schall was able to shine on a team loaded with youth, and for that reason, she is the Leader Times' 2014 Softball Player of the Year.
Though it wasn't the best in terms of wins, how enjoyable was your senior season?
The underclassmen made it very enjoyable, and it was nice to play with (fellow seniors) Georgie (Shoop) and Emily (Kutch) one last time. We have a lot of good memories.
Do you have a favorite memory?
I'd say back in Little League when we went to the Senior League Regionals (in 2011) and the game against New York that we won. That was a big highlight. There was also the game against Mars last year, when we went to extra innings. We ended up losing, but it was intense.
Was there one area where you improved this season?
I think I could've done better in the field; I had a few errors. I think you have to look at the whole team, and as a team, we improved a lot.
How disappointed were you to not get back to the playoffs after making it your sophomore year?
It's very disappointing. As an athlete, you always set your goals high. To not reach that goal was disappointing, but you have to look at the progress we made.
Is there anything you hope your younger teammates learned from you this season?
I hope they put the intensity into the game that softball, or any sport, deserves. I hope they're willing to work hard and improve as an athlete.
What are your college plans for the fall?
I'm going to Allegheny to study biochemistry with a psychology minor. I want to pursue something in the medical field.
You're playing volleyball in college, so how much will you miss playing softball in the spring?
It will be weird not being out there. After this season, I put my (softball) bag in the garage, and it hit me then that I won't need it anymore.
Kelly Clowser West Shamokin, Sr., SS
Clowser was the spark to the Wolves' offense out of the leadoff spot with a .333 average, 18 runs and eight stolen bases.
LeeAnn Gibson Karns City, So., P/SS
Gibson was No. 1 in the circle for the Gremlins on their way to the District 9 final, and she also was second with a .513 average.
Kara Hicks Redbank Valley, Fr., DH
Hicks earned first-team all-KSAC honors for her .566 average, 26 RBIs, 13 runs and a .830 slugging percentage.
Karlie Hill FReeport, Jr., 1B
Hill led a potent offense with a .415 average and a team-high 22 RBIs in addition to her defensive work at first.
Jess Jubec Ford City, So., P
Jubec was a leader at the plate with her .375 average, 12 RBIs and 1.019 OPS, and she also struck out 53 in 93 2⁄3 innings.
Jessica Kelley FReeport, Jr., P
Kelley did it all with an 8-5 record and 82 strikeouts, as well as a .482 average, 28 runs, 21 RBIs, five homers and nine steals.
Emily Kutch Kittanning, Sr., P/2B
Kutch battled through a tough season in the circle with a young team but hit .445 with 13 RBIs and just one error.
Morgan McCarthy Freeport, Fr., C
McCarthy batted .521 and flashed outstanding power with seven home runs and 21 RBIs, all while playing behind the plate in her first year.
Miranda Reesman Leechburg, Jr., SS
Reesman batted .432 and scored 18 runs, but her glove and strong arm at short might have made the biggest impact.
Leechburg, Fr., 3B/DH
Redbank Valley, Fr., P
Karns City, So., Util.
Redbank Valley, Sr., 1B
Kittanning, So., C
Freeport, Sr., SS
Leechburg, Sr., P
West Shamokin, So., 1B/P
Ford City, So., 1B
Kittanning, Fr., OF
West Shamokin, So., 2B