Frazier, Shenango share disappointing memories at Fairhaven Park
When the WPIAL released the locations for the Class A softball quarterfinals, Frazier coach Paul Harvey and Shenango coach Amy Delaney may have each cringed a bit when they saw that the two teams will be playing each other at 4 p.m. Monday at Fairhaven Park.
The complex is not exactly filled with pleasant memories for the fourth-seeded Commodores (17-2) or the 12th-seeded Wildcats (15-6). Frazier has lost in the quarterfinals at Fairhaven Park in each of the past three seasons.
Shenango lost at Fairhaven Park in the 2012 quarterfinals and the 2011 semifinals.
“The kids all know,” Harvey said in regards to his team's struggles in Kennedy Township. “On the way back home on the bus (after a first-round 3-2 playoff win over Vincentian Academy on Thursday) they all said we'd be playing at Fairhaven. They seem to take it in stride.”
Shenango also won't pay much mind to past losses at the field. In fact, the Wildcats did beat Carmichaels in a quarterfinal game there in 2011.
“You just try to put a positive spin on it,” Delaney said. “It's a place we are familiar with and we have won big games there before.”
For both teams, playing well is the best way to erase some of those haunting memories, and the Commodores and Wildcats certainly have been competing at a high level in recent weeks. Frazier has won seven in a row, including the narrow playoff opener over the Royals.
“Defensively, we let a fly ball drop and we threw one ball away,” Harvey said. “Outside of that, we were good defensively. To be honest, I never really felt threatened because every inning, we had runners on base. We did leave eight or nine runners on, so that's a concern.”
In most cases, the Commodores have had no trouble piling up the hits and the runs this season. Sophomore center fielder Monica Joseph (.594) and senior shortstop Alexis Livingstone (.588) each came into the playoffs hitting well above .500. Senior Andrea Lash has compiled all of Frazier's 17 wins and has 106 strikeouts so far this season. Lash also doubled to knock in the game-winning run against Vincentian Academy.
Aside from adding a few more timely hits, the Commodores seem to be peaking at the right time. The same is true for Shenango, winners of six straight.
“From top to bottom, everyone can come through and our pitching has been solid,” Delaney said. “I think it's always good to peak late in the season when it really matters, and I think we are doing that. But I'm a perfectionist, and there's always room for improvement.”
Junior first baseman Kimberly Burdett entered the playoffs hitting .580, followed by freshman Alyssa White at .526. Freshman pitcher Macy Rubin has 13 wins and 120 strikeouts. Rubin pitched a complete-game, three-hitter as the Wildcats outlasted Sto-Rox, 7-6, in eight innings in their playoff opener.
Each team played in a tough first-round game, which could serve them well in the quarterfinals.
“I think it gives the girls confidence because in the playoffs, all the teams are good,” Delaney said. “To hang with and beat a good team like Sto-Rox is great for us.”
Delaney knows that knocking off the Commodores won't be an easy chore.
“Obviously, they are a good team to make it this far and we're expecting a tough team,” Delaney said.
Frazier is also expecting a tough battle as it tries to break its string of bad luck in the quarterfinals at Fairhaven Park.
“We were in all of those games,” Harvey said in regards to the past quarterfinal defeats. “I think that in itself will help us. These girls are older now, and they might find a way to get that big hit.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.