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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Serra Catholic's Cole McCombs, West Mifflin's Paige Flore

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Serra Catholic's Cole McCombs
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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Brian Graham
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

Cole McCombs

School: Serra Catholic

Year: Freshman

Sport: Baseball

Claim to fame: Combs tossed a no-hitter and struck out 14 to lead the Eagles to a 4-0 win over Monessen in Section 2-A on April 9. On Monday, he tossed a one-hitter in a 5-1 win over Bishop Canevin. In another notable start this season, the freshman allowed just two hits and struck out 12 to lift Serra Catholic (6-3, 3-0) past Springdale, 10-0, in a six-inning, nonsection game March 31.

It's not common to see a freshman come on this strong. What is your mindset right now?

I just go out there and try to have fun. It's a little bit in the back of my mind, I just go out and pitch my game.

What do opposing batters have to worry about when they step up to face you?

I don't really look at the batters much, I just try to hit my spots. I try to work the inside and outside of the plate. I work my two-seam (fastball) a lot.

What did you work on heading into the year to make sure you were prepared?

I really just tried to mentally tell myself to try to not overthrow and focus on hitting my spots.

How do you hope to improve as the season progresses?

I hope to add some speed to my fastball and, again, just hit my spots.

How good can this Serra Catholic team be?

We can be the best team in the state if we play together. We just play good together every game and we win ball games.

Paige Flore

School: West Mifflin

Year: Senior

Sport: Softball

Claim to fame: Flore struck out 16 batters and got the win after pitching in the Titans' 14-inning, 8-7 win over Thomas Jefferson on April 10. Flore is no stranger to dominant performances on the mound. She struck out 14 and had four hits in the Titans' 10-0, six-inning win over Steel Valley on April 2.

Talk about the mental and physical fatigue that came from pitching a 14-inning game.

I felt that I was more than tired. My arm felt it because that was my fourth game in a row. I didn't want to come out unless my coach made me. My team was behind me, so if I gave up a hit, I know they'd have my back.

Would you say that was one of your better pitching performances?

Yes. I would say I threw one of my hardest games against TJ. It meant a lot to get that win because my team and I gave it our all. I threw 199 pitches, so that was pretty impressive.

What are you doing differently this year that's allowing you to have such success?

I'm focusing more. I know that since we lost four starters, our defense is a little bit new. I know they have my back, but at the same time I have to pitch the ball down the middle.

Have you ever pitched against any of the guys on the baseball team?

No, I never have. They always say they want to hit against me because it's so easy. I just laugh and say ‘OK, we'll see one day.'

— Brian Graham

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