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Greensburg Central Catholic softball closes in on first section title since '08

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 8:06 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Steel Valley shortstop Skyler Vinay tags out Greensburg Central Catholic baserunner Sierra Mathos at second base during their April 25, 2013 contest in Greensburg.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic catcher Carolyn Appleby tags out Steel Valley baserunner Leena Zahir at home during their game Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Greensburg.

After reeling off seven consecutive victories that locked up a WPIAL Class AA playoff berth, Steel Valley was primed to make a statement and earn a share of first place in Section 4.

Instead of the Ironmen vaulting themselves into darkhorse contention for a title, however, Greensburg Central Catholic used the game to lay a claim of its own.

Greensburg Central Catholic (8-3, 7-1) opened the bottom of the first with three consecutive hits that led to a trio of runs that helped the Centurions roll to an 8-2 victory over Steel Valley (8-3, 6-3). The win brought GCC to within one win of locking up at least a share of the section title.

“I like the way they fought the whole game, but some things just didn't go our way,” Steel Valley coach Matt Janov said. “Some of the balls they hit kind of fell in, and they hit some balls hard, too, and we made some (mistakes) that first inning that really kind of got us off on the wrong foot.”

With Steel Valley stuck playing uphill throughout the game, Greensburg Central Catholic was able to relax on a home field that has been none too kind to the team in recent years. The Centurions were able to parlay the quick start into a victory that all but assured them of a share of their first section title since 2008. All they need is a win Friday at East Allegheny (1-9, 0-8) or Tuesday at home against Charleroi (4-6, 3-5) or a Steel Valley win Tuesday over second-place Brentwood.

“It makes it nice,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach Gary Ciarimboli said. “I want to win out and would like to win the section, and it would be nice for these girls who have never won a section because we haven't won a section in a while.”

Steel Valley could not catch a break thanks in large part to a Greensburg Central Catholic defense that stymied every opportunity. With one out in the first, Steel Valley's Lisa Straub singled and was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.

The Ironmen also had a runner thrown out at third for the last out in the sixth that stopped a potential rally. Yet another runner was erased, this one at home, with one out in the seventh.

In addition, Greensburg Central Catholic center fielder Sierra Mathos made a diving catch with one on and none out in the fourth that limited the Ironmen to only one run instead of a big inning.

“We're starting to hit the ball, and I'm seeing that they're starting to hit the ball in the middle and the bottom of the lineup,” Janov said. “If they continue to hit the ball we'll be fine because our defense has been solid. But this was our worst defensive game all year.”

Steel Valley still can earn a second-place tie in the section with a win at home Tuesday against Brentwood, a team it lost to, 2-1, in the first meeting April 11. Whether they finish second or third, the Ironmen will be in a quandary after that game as their section slate will have ended and they have five nonsection games over the season's final two weeks.

Considering teams are notorious for cancelling late-season games, the Ironmen — and Centurions — could be penalized because only Section 1 and Section 4 have six members.

“What's nice is that we play some local teams like TJ and West Mifflin, and these guys are going to want to go hard against their friends in those friendly rivalries,” Janov said. “Those will be almost like a section game, and it's nice that we have those teams coming up. But it is a concern, and we have to keep them sharp.”

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