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GCC softball roster small but talented

| Thursday, April 3, 2014, 2:40 p.m.

For a program that has enjoyed so much success in recent years, the Greensburg Central Catholic softball team had an awfully difficult time putting a roster together this season.

GCC entered the 2014 campaign with just 13 players. That's not a lot, especially considering the Centurions' section title last year and the runner-up finishes in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs they achieved in 2011 and ‘12.

“This year, we were struggling to get those numbers,” said Tom Appleby, a longtime GCC assistant coach in his first year as the head coach. “I think everybody was kind of surprised at what happened, how we were on the verge of maybe not even having a program. But we'll hang in there. We'll end up, I'm sure, being a contender at the end of the year.”

Appleby, who follows Gary Ciarimboli as the person in charge of GCC softball, has led other teams in the past. Under Appleby's direction, the West Point softball team made it all the way to the Little League World Series twice.

While Appleby believes hitting will be an area of strength for Greensburg Central Catholic, he recognizes a lack of pitching experience. GCC will lean heavily on the arm of junior Nikki Adisey, a seasoned pitcher who had to miss the start of the season after her tonsils were removed.

Her absence was noticeable in GCC's first game. After three rainouts, the Centurions finally took the field on March 28 at South Allegheny and lost 20-7. That was the first time all spring they got to see action on a field instead of in the gym.

“I thought they did really well for not being out until now,” Appleby said.

Until Adisey returns and reaches the point where she can carry the pitching load, Greensburg Central Catholic can get innings from juniors Brittany Gray and Carolyn Appleby (the coach's daughter), sophomore Kristin Hickey and freshman Caroline Perz.

In addition to freshman outfielder Abby Skatell, Adisey, Appleby, Hickey and Perz all were members of the GCC girls basketball team, which the softball team recruited from to boost its numbers. The hoops team went undefeated in section play, reached the semifinals of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs and won a game in the state tournament.

Carolyn Appleby, the leading run scorer, will split time at catcher with junior Kate Caldwell. Hickey, who's coming back from an ACL injury, will play shortstop. And Perz, who suffered a concussion during basketball season, will see time at first base.

“Well, it doesn't hurt,” Tom Appleby said about having so many basketball players on his club. “It goes both ways. All those athletes just move from one sport to the other. But the downside is you can't get into softball shape until after the season. Unfortunately, that doesn't give you much time before the season starts.”

Another player capable of playing first is the team's only senior, Liana DeNino, who also plays second. Junior Hannah Guldin is GCC's third baseman.

Junior Sierra Mathos and sophomore Emma Taormina will both roam the outfield, with the third spot being divided among freshmen Emily Giallonardo, Kennedy Johnston and Skatell.

“I think we will have a good offense,” Adisey said. “Hitting seems to be a stronger part of our game.”

Mark Emery is a freelance writer.

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