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Realignment juggles A-K Valley baseball, softball teams

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 11:15 p.m.

The WPIAL baseball and softball seasons are just beginning, but some coaches already are thinking about next year with the 2015-16 realignment coming out earlier this week.

The most notable local baseball changes are in Class AAA, where Deer Lakes and Freeport move up from Class AA, while Kittanning gets detached from other local schools. Deer Lakes and Freeport move into an A-K-friendly Section 5-AAA with Hampton, Highlands, Knoch, Mars and Valley.

Kittanning, though, is now in Section 2 with Derry, Greensburg Salem, Indiana, Mt. Pleasant, Southmoreland and Yough.

“We're very educated on our section; we've played most of the teams in our new section repeatedly over the years, so we kind of know what we're up against,” Deer Lakes coach Jon Pedrosky said. “It will be fun to start a new chapter in Deer Lakes baseball, but we're hoping to have a successful exit from Class AA first.”

Section 3-AA stays the same, minus Deer Lakes, Freeport and Shady Side Academy.

“It has been a lot of fun playing against some very good teams and players in Section 3-AA,” Freeport coach Chris Graczyk said. “We have built some really good rivalries and played some really competitive baseball. Hopefully, we can continue that with exhibition games. Class AAA will be a new test for us, and we will do our best to rise to that challenge.”

Fox Chapel and Kiski Area are now together in Section 3-AAAA, with Central Catholic, Penn Hills, Shaler and Woodland Hills. Also in Quad-A, Plum moves from Section 3 to 4 and joins Allderdice, Brashear, Franklin Regional, Gateway and McKeesport.

In softball, Fox Chapel and Plum will be foes in new-look Section 2-AAAA, which also includes Allderdice, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills.

Kittanning moves down from Section 5-AAA to Section 3-AA and joins Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ford City, Freeport, Valley and West Shamokin.

Oakland Catholic moves into Section 5, and Shady Side Academy is out of 3-AA.

In Class A, North Catholic and Jeannette move in and Ellis School out of Section 3, while Leechburg, Riverview, St. Joseph and Springdale stay put.

Zelonka to Bethany

Valley News Dispatch Football Offensive Player of the Year Jesse Zelonka of Apollo-Ridge has committed to play quarterback at Division III Bethany.

Zelonka (6-foot, 165 pounds) last season completed 55 percent of his passes and threw for 1,613 yards with 25 TDs against one interception. He also rushed for 779 yards and six scores.

• Lower Burrell native Johnny Petrishen, a junior wide receiver/defensive back at Central Catholic, has an offer from Penn.

Gillette shines

Highlands senior gymnast Jordan Gillette put on a head-turning performance during her final USAG Level 10 state meet.

A West Virginia recruit, Gillette won the state title in beam with a career-best score of 9.625, while taking second in bars (9.425) and floor (9.525) and fifth in all-around — with another career-high score of 37.475.

She moves on to the Level 10 Regional meet next month.

Bill Beckner Jr is the local sports editor of the Valley News Disptach. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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