Baseball, softball teams look to regroup after WPIAL playoff letdowns
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Give Blackhawk baseball coach Bob Amalia a choice, and the decision is easy.
WPIAL or PIAA championship? Amalia's taking the latter.
“If you're out of state and you told someone you won your district, they might think that's good, but they don't know how many teams are in your district,” Amalia said. “Everyone knows what it means if you tell them you won the state.”
After Amalia's top-seeded Cougars suffered an upset loss in the WPIAL Class AAA final, Blackhawk finds itself looking to regroup, fix some things and keep playing through the state tournament, which begins Monday.
Blackhawk is the only baseball team to face the scenario. Canon-McMillan softball, the No. 1 seed in WPIAL Class AAAA, faces an identical situation after falling to Shaler in the championship game.
Greensburg Salem was the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA softball bracket and lost in the semifinals. The Golden Lions had to win a consolation-round game to reach the state tournament for a third straight year.
“Once we figured out that we had a chance at states, then it was like we forgot that we lost. It was new life,” Greensburg Salem coach Jody Morgan said. “It wasn't hard to get them refocused for that consolation game because they didn't want to be done.”
There is some historical context here, and you have to trace back only to 2012.
That year, Neshannock was seeded No. 1 in the WPIAL Class AA softball bracket only to suffer an upset loss to fourth-seeded Deer Lakes, 2-0, in the semifinals. After beating Riverside in the third-place game, the Lancers scored 28 runs in four PIAA tournament games to claim their first state title.
The Riverside baseball team, though seeded third in the WPIAL bracket, lost to Ellwood City, 9-7, in the championship game the same year before winning a PIAA Class AA title.
Of the eight No. 1 seeds from this year's WPIAL baseball and softball tournaments, six are still playing and three — California baseball, Beaver and Neshannock softball — were crowned champions.
Hempfield baseball lost in the first round to No. 16 Seneca Valley, the eventual Class AAAA champion, and Neshannock baseball fell to Class AA runner-up Seton-La Salle, a No. 9 seed, in the quarterfinals.
A trio of No. 2 seeds — Baldwin and Quaker Valley baseball, as well as Deer Lakes softball — will similarly be looking to turn upset losses into a strong showing at the PIAA tournament.
For Greensburg Salem and Blackhawk, a quick response was key — or at least they hope. The Golden Lions' win in the consolation-round was an emotional one, with Maggie Kallock racing home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Blackhawk catcher Jake Emge was encouraged by how the Cougars rallied for three runs to send the game into extra innings after ace Brendan McKay allowed three runs and had his scoreless-innings streak snapped.
“We didn't flop like most teams would, especially with a team scoring three runs on McKay. That's unheard of,” Emge said. “We didn't stop. We didn't turn over. That's promising as a player to see that.”
Canon-McMillan didn't have to spend a lot of time learning what to correct at practice, as the Big Macs made five errors to run their season total to 47.
In three playoff games, Canon-McMillan has hit one homer after averaging 2.6 per game during the regular season.
“As I said to them, ‘I'm angry. I want back out there. I want to go again, and I hope you all feel that same desire now because we didn't play our best game,' ” Big Macs coach Michele Moeller said. “In a championship game, to not play your best game … that's a hard pill to swallow.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_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.
- BVA’s Parshall gives Penn State a commitment for softball
- Plum slow-pitch earns sweep in regular-season finale