Cornell, Montour softball teams benefit from Sto-Rox transfers
TribLIVE Sports Videos
When her teammates wore blue to softball practice, Cornell junior Shyanne Rippole wore green.
It wasn't a fashion statement.
“All I have is Sto-Rox attire,” said Rippole, who transferred from there to Cornell in mid-February along with teammates Caitlin Zielinski and Kionna Banks. “Whether it's my hoodie or my sweatpants from volleyball, I have Sto-Rox everything.”
It was easy to spot the newcomers. To ease their transition, coach Jeff Stuart bought Cornell shirts for all three.
“It was nice for him to do that,” Rippole said. “(The Cornell coaches and players) are so welcoming and so nice. They're really understanding about the whole situation. They understand that we just want to play softball.”
The Sto-Rox school board folded its title-winning softball program in June, shortly after longtime coach Bill Palermo resigned. Because the board's decision was attributed to budgetary reasons, a PIAA rule allowed the team's players to transfer to any neighboring district without penalty. The-athletic-intent restriction was lifted for one year.
“If that wasn't a rule, I'd be sitting at Sto-Rox wishing I was on the softball field right now,” said Rippole, who lives with relatives in Coraopolis. “I'm just happy I'm playing. I'm happy I'm on that field every day practicing and having a good time with my teammates.”
Forced by state legislation, the PIAA added Article 6, Section 6 to its bylaws in 2011.
Along with the three who transferred to Cornell, senior Aimee Miller and junior Lexi Giles transferred to Montour. They were the first WPIAL student-athletes to transfer for athletic intent under the provision.
“Those schools don't have to request or apply for eligibility,” WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said. “The rule says that once they're enrolled, they're eligible immediately.”
Miller and Giles transferred before this school year started. The three at Cornell finished basketball season at Sto-Rox and then transferred in February. A sixth, Mary Cersosimo, moved out of state.
“It was really difficult,” Rippole said. “Staying at Sto would have left us with a lot of regret. It was definitely hard because we don't want to leave our friends behind, but we had to make a decision.”
Four of the five are starters, with Miller likely to join them. Rippole starts at third base, Banks at second and Zielinski pitches or plays infield for Cornell. Miller will pitch for Montour this season, but was held from the lineup for violating a team rule. Miller earned all-section honors in 2013. Giles starts at third for the Spartans, who rank No. 4 in Class AAA.
“My first question was were they going to be as good in Class AAA as they were in Class A,” Montour coach Sarah Capp said. “They've proven that they can. I think that's a reflection of why they were so dominant in Class A.”
In 35 seasons under Palermo, Sto-Rox won 10 WPIAL titles, one state title and 27 section titles. The Vikings won five consecutive WPIAL titles from 2000-04.
“He always had a top-notch program,” Stuart said. “... I can't speak for the girls who went elsewhere, but the three I got are blending in pretty well.”
Cornell lost twice to Sto-Rox last season 15-0 and 12-0. But with the three additions from Sto-Rox, Cornell has a 19-person roster this season that's the largest in Stuart's five years.
“I chose Cornell because Montour had a really solid team already,” said Rippole, who wants to play college softball. “They had a lot of people in my grade who were starters. I didn't want to go all guns blazing for a position against a girl who's been there her whole life.”
Cornell (0-2) was 5-12 last season. The Raiders lost Monday to Burgettstown, 17-0. They face Sewickley Academy on Friday and Northgate on Saturday.
“Yeah, we lost the last two games,” Rippole said, “but there's something about being the underdog that makes you want to fight so much more. I don't have any doubt we could potentially make it into the playoffs this year.”
Montour (3-4) won WPIAL titles in 2010 and 2012. The addition of Giles and Miller could help them challenge for another. Montour has won its past two games after losing four of its first five.
“Both of them together are really going to impact the team,” said Capp, a first-year coach and 2008 Montour graduate. “I think that they are just mentally tough kids, and they're both phenomenal athletes overall. We've worked to make them more fundamentally strong.”
Transferring with friends helped the acclimation process.
“It made it easier, because I didn't feel like I was alone or the only one who had to say goodbye to people,” Rippole said. “It was nice to have others around me who knew how hard it was.”
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
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.
- Komen acceptance of drilling-linked money raises ire
- Pirates acquire infielder from Indians, designate Axford, Gomez for assignment
- Jack Bruce, bassist of 60s band Cream, dies at 71
- Cafeteria worker tried to stop Washington school shooter
- Flight 93 memorial fire hints at struggle to safeguard historic artifacts
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Fábregas: Cancer-stricken California woman chooses to plan her death
- Steelers notebook: Shazier returns just in time
- Man robbed, shot in East Liberty
- Predators winger Neal caught ‘blindsided’ by trade from Penguins
- DEP orders cleanup of former Jeannette Glass property to resume