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Daily News spotlight athletes: Elizabeth Forward's Luke Padezan, South Allegheny's Julia Giannandrea

Submitted - Elizabeth Forward's Luke Padezan
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Elizabeth Forward's Luke Padezan
Submitted - South Allegheny's Julia Giannandrea
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>South Allegheny's Julia Giannandrea

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By Robert Stinner
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 1:36 a.m.

Luke Padezan

School: Elizabeth Forward

Year: Senior

Sport: Baseball

Claim to fame: Padezan pitched a six-inning complete game, racking up nine strikeouts last week in a 12-0 win over Ringgold, as the Warriors (12-7, 7-5) earned a playoff berth. The senior also went 3 for 4 with two RBIs in the clinching game. Padezan was the winning pitcher in the team's 4-3 win over Montour in the first round of the playoffs Monday.

“We put ourselves in a bad place starting out 3-5 in the section,” coach Frank Champ said. “We had to win four straight in order to get into the playoffs. Luke pitched three of those four. He actually said to me ‘each one is like a playoff game,' and that's exactly right. He stepped up and pitched extremely well. He pitched very well against Montour. He threw the ball well and really kept them off balance and had a couple of hits as well. He has done a great job for us.”

What is most important to having a good game on the mound?

I think having a good catcher, having good pitches called, and having a solid defense behind you.

What was it like pitching three of the four games you needed to win to make it into the playoffs?

It was rewarding to get those three wins. There was pressure in each one because each was basically a playoff game.

Who has been the toughest opposition you've faced?

I think we've played a lot of close games against Thomas Jefferson. They weren't in our section my sophomore year but they were my junior and senior years, and we've had a lot of pretty good games with them. I'd say they have been our toughest competition.

Do you have a favorite team or player?

My favorite team other than the Pirates would have to be the Yankees. My favorite player would be Derek Jeter because of his character.

Would you trade another 20 years of below .500 baseball from the Pirates for a WPIAL title?

Yeah, no doubt! I put up with it for 17 years, I would put up with it for another 20 for sure.

What are you going to do next year?

I'm going to be going to Penn State Greater Allegheny. I'm undecided on a major right now, but I'm definitely going to play baseball.

Julia Giannandrea

School: South Allegheny

Year: Junior

Sport: Softball

Claim to fame: Giannandrea has helped lead the Gladiators (8-5, 6-4) to a WPIAL playoff berth. They lost to Seton-La Salle, 3-2, in a first-round matchup Tuesday. The junior hit better than .400 this season.

Are you comfortable at catcher?

As a catcher you have to take control of the field. You have the most responsibility on the field and I like that.

How do you manage games so well?

I just tell the outfield where to throw the ball and I let them know how many outs there are between plays. I try to get them into position by telling them where the person hit the ball (in their last at bat) and to be ready.

Do you like hitting or catching more?

Recently, I've been hitting a lot better than I had been so I'm going to say hitting right now. But when I'm in a slump I'd say I like catching better.

Do you have a favorite athlete you look up to?

I look up to my sister, Cara. She encouraged me because she played catcher and outfield in college. She was also a leadoff hitter like me as well.

What is your favorite food?

Chicken noodle soup because there is a variety of ingredients in it.

— Robert Stinner

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