Batterymates leading GCC softball into postseason
Greensburg Central Catholic softball assistant coach Tom Appleby knows how to make an entrance.
An assistant under head coach Gary Ciarimboli, Appleby temporarily will take over the reins of the program as it heads into the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. Ciarimboli will not be available because of a family commitment.
“There's no pressure,” Appleby said, half-jokingly referencing his Tuesday head coaching debut — a 9-1 win over Freeport.
One thing that should ease the transition is a loaded Centurions roster.
GCC finished the regular season with a 10-4 overall record and a 9-1 mark in Section 4-AA — good enough for the section crown.
The Centurions, who have only 13 active players, have used their small roster to an advantage.
Ciarimboli and Appleby weren't forced to shuffle the lineup much — mainly because they couldn't — which resulted in players getting tons of reps throughout the season.
“We didn't have the biggest roster, that's for sure,” Appleby said. “But numbers aside, this is just a solid team. We've been fortunate to stay healthy and to have been able to fill spots quickly. You have to play with what you have, and luckily we had a very talented group come out.”
The Centurions, dominated by underclassmen, have rode the pitching of sophomore Nikki Adisey throughout the season. She finished with eight wins and 54 strikeouts.
“She's had a great year,” Coach Appleby said. “First off, she's just tremendously athletic and knows the game. She works incredibly hard and keeps on track. Her form keeps improving and she's taking control.”
Adisey's batterymate, sophomore catcher Carolyn Appleby, has had a torrid hitting year and has anchored the team defensively.
“She's very solid defensively,” said her father and coach. “With Nikki pitching so well … it all starts there with that pitcher/catcher combination. They've had very solid years and really give us a strong 1-2 punch.”
Julia Lang also has been a force at the plate, leading the offense with a .581 batting average, four home runs and 28 RBI.
She is among the WPIAL leaders in all three categories.
After starting the year with a disappointing nonsection loss to Yough, GCC won its next five to start the season strong. The Centurions entered the playoffs winners of four of its past five games, with the lone loss coming to Latrobe, which earned the No. 2 seed in Class AAAA.
Appleby is confident in his team despite the bevy of young players.
“These girls have been playing in competitive travel leagues for years and are used to playing tough competition,” Appleby said. “We expected to have a good season.”
Greensburg Central Catholic (11-4) will play No. 13 Beaver (11-6) in the quarterfinals Tuesday.
Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.