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Bishop Canevin softball expects rebound in return to Class A

File photo - Senior Kala Cinker and the Bishop Canevin softball team will drop down to Class A this season.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>File photo</em></div>Senior Kala Cinker and the Bishop Canevin softball team will drop down to Class A this season.
File photo - Senior Hayley Klein will provide the Crusaders a solid presence on the plate and the mound.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>File photo</em></div>Senior Hayley Klein will provide the Crusaders a solid presence on the plate and the mound.

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Top high school sports
Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Bishop Canevin coach Karen Seitz-Lafianza doesn't expect a repeat of the 2012 season.

The Crusaders struggled to find the winning formula, sputtered to a 5-13 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

But as Bishop Canevin drops to Class A for the first time since 2010, the second-year coach expects a return to the winning ways the team is known for.

“Bishop Canevin softball has such a great tradition,” Seitz-Lafianza said. “Before the basketball team won it this season, it was the only team that won a (PIAA) title. The kids know they need to uphold the tradition. We make them well aware of the tradition and what is expected from the team.”

The drop to Class A won't mean easier competition as the Crusaders join Section 1. Bishop Canevin will now face Avella, Burgettstown, Cornell, North Catholic, Northgate, Sewickley Academy and Sto-Rox.

“Burgettstown dropped down with us, and they were pretty good in Class AA,” Seitz-Lafianza said. “Sto-Rox always has a good team. There is nothing wrong with some competition.”

The transition will be made by a large portion of the 2012 team returning. The Crusaders lost only two seniors to graduation last season, and the experience the team gained last year should pay dividends.

Senior pitcher Hayley Klein returns after finding herself on the mound last year. Klein was in the unfortunate place of replacing four-year starter and current Bowling Green pitcher Jamie Kertes.

“It was a lot of pressure for her,” Seitz-Lafianza said. “This year she is much more confident and realized. And it helps having good players behind you.”

Seniors shortstop Margaret Clarke, outfielder Kala Cinker and second baseman Kalista Kelly all return and will provide experience.

Sophomore catcher Kylee Sonson also returns after gaining valuable experience last season.

The Crusaders also will benefit from a strong freshman class. Lexi Pilch will handle third base, and Caroline Clarke will be worked into the rotation. The team has eight freshmen, and while some will play strictly junior varsity, the team finally is building depth.

“We didn't have that last year,” Seitz-Lafianza said. “There will be depth and competition. A lot of these freshmen can fly. The speed is a huge upgrade.”

The Crusaders will be without lone junior Johnie Olkosky, who will be sidelined with an illness indefinitely.

Batting also should see an improvement as Cinker, Pilch and Margaret Clarke are expected to provide offense.

While the team struggled last season, Seitz-Lafianza still sets the bar high. At a minimum, she wants the Crusaders to reach the postseason.

“Playoffs should be made,” Seitz-Lafianza said. “That is the first and most important thing. We will build from there. We need to get our confidence back after last season. Once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. Especially in Class A, where there are not many powerhouses.”

Bishop Canevin is scheduled to host Avella today, Thursday, at the Meyer-Middleton Complex. First pitch is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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