Riverside's Wilson too much for Steel Valley in quarterfinals
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Playing powerhouse Riverside in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals was a thought few outside the Steel Valley dugout believed was possible at the beginning of the season, but that's just where Matt Janov and his Ironmen found themselves Monday afternoon at North Hills' McIntyre Field.
Despite the 6-0 defeat at the hands of the Panthers' pitching — and hitting — sensation Kirsten Wilson, the 11th-seeded underdog finished off one of its best seasons in nearly a decade.
“Not a lot of people thought we could make it this far,” Janov said. “To finish tied for second in (Section 4-AA) and also win a playoff game, that's a great accomplishment for them.”
Last week, the Ironmen (12-6) upset sixth-seeded Burrell, 2-1, to claim the school's first playoff victory since 2006. That victory came on the heels of a 11-5 regular season that saw the emergence of freshman pitcher Maddie Cotter.
Cotter earned all 12 of Steel Valley's victories and collected 132 strikeouts, a regular-season average of eight per game.
“I couldn't be more proud of her,” Janov said. “When she first started, we knew she was going to be good, but just her poise on the mound has been tremendous all season.”
Cotter's poise was put to the test Monday as her counterpart Wilson hit laser beam home runs to left field in the first and fifth innings to give Riverside (17-0), which will face No. 2 seed Chartiers-Houston Wednesday in the semifinals at a site and time to be determined, leads of 2-0 and 5-0.
“You have to take it one pitch at a time. If a mistake happens, you can't let it bring the whole team down,” Cotter said of her mindset after the home runs. “More mistakes will happen if you do that.”
Wilson fanned 15 batters and recorded her 14th shutout. All this coming a week after she pitched a five-inning perfect game against Bentworth in the first round. The consistent success of a program like Riverside serves as a measuring stick for second-year coach Janov.
“You face a team and a program of this caliber, who's been a traditional power, it's a good learning experience to see where we want to go,” Janov said.
“That's the type of program we want to become.”
Next year, Janov returns five freshmen, including three starters in Cotter, catcher Chelsea Rohan and outfielder Lisa Straub. Cotter and Rohan already stay at least an hour after practice to hone their skills and strengthen their pitcher-catcher relationship, but Cotter plans to do even more.
“I want to get stronger so I can pitch faster,” Cotter said.
A by-product of success is a winning attitude, and that's what Janov and Cotter bring into next season after one year together.
“I hope we (make the playoffs) the next three years,” Cotter said.
“Our expectations should get higher and higher every year,” Janov added. “I anticipate us to be back in the playoffs again next year.”
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.