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High school notebook: Playoff picture coming into focus for A-K Valley teams

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Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Knoch's Abbie Thrower delivers a pitch against Kittanning during the game Thursday, April 4, 2013, at Laura Doerr Park in Jefferson. Knoch barely missed the WPIAL playoffs due to a tiebreaker.
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Friday, May 3, 2013, 12:31 a.m.

The local WPIAL baseball and softball playoff picture is coming into view as the regular season winds down.

Local baseball teams headed to the postseason are Plum in Class AAAA, Knoch in Class AAA, Deer Lakes and Freeport in Class AA and Riverview and Springdale in Class A.

Burrell and Ford City remain on the bubble in Class AA. Burrell can clinch with a win Monday over Apollo-Ridge. The Buccaneers have been to the playoffs 15 straight seasons under coach Mark Spohn.

Softball qualifiers from the A-K area are Plum in Class AAAA, Highlands in Class AAA, Deer Lakes, Burrell and Freeport in Class AA and Leechburg and Riverview in Class A.

The softball pairings are scheduled to come out next Thursday, with baseball to follow Friday.

Tough break

Knoch's softball team learned first-hand the purpose of a tiebreaker to determine playoff teams in the WPIAL.

And it learned teams don't always benefit from such rules.

Four teams all finished 5-5 in Section 5-AAA and the top three qualify.

Essentially, when the tiebreaker is applied, those four teams are lumped together into mini standings with their head-to-head records matched up.

Hampton finished 4-2, Highlands and Kittanning were 3-3 and Knoch was 2-4 against the other teams.

With Hampton advancing, head-to-head was used again among the other three, and Highlands advanced at 3-1. Kittanning (2-2) and Knoch (1-3) did not qualify.

The tough part is that Knoch had the best overall record in the section, at 9-7, when the tiebreaker was enforced.

School records fall

Riverview's track program has a pair of new record holders, thanks to performances at the recent Mars Invitational.

Junior Tyler Murphy broke the record in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 39.35 seconds, which earned him second place.

Senior Greg Wagner, meantime, shattered a mark that had lasted for 25 years in the 3,200-meter run. Wagner ran a 9:43.05 to take sixth.

Stein to Edinboro

St. Joseph senior swimmer Holly Stein will continue her career at Division II Edinboro University.

Stein finished second in the WPIAL and third in the PIAA in the Class AA 100-yard breaststroke this season.

She also considered California (Pa.).

On a side note, Stein still has not received her bronze medal from states.

Nitowski picks SVC

Burrell's Nick Nitowski will continue his football career at Division III Saint Vincent College.

The 6-foot, 225-pound senior will play defensive end.

He was a first-team all-Allegheny Conference selection at offensive guard last season.

Nitowski was a two-year starter on both lines.

Fan-friendly event

Riverview will have a unique event on Tuesday when it hosts “Afternoon in the Park,” a baseball fan appreciation event at Riverside Park.

School is dismissed early, and throngs of students head to the baseball field, not unlike a football pep rally.

The Class AA No.2-ranked Raiders host Apollo-Ridge at 12:30 p.m.

“The foul lines are full, there's ice cream and hot dogs; it's a festival for a day,” Riverview baseball coach Rich Griser said.

“It's usually a packed house. We have a presentation of colors ceremony, and they have promotions planned each inning.”

The Pirate Parrot also is scheduled to appear.

Admission is free.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at

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