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Elizabeth Forward excited for first ever state game

| Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Elizabeth Forward baseball team already has enjoyed the greatest season in its program's history, even before it takes part in the school's first ever PIAA playoff game next week. To hear Warriors coach Frank Champ tell it, however, it's really been EF's finest two seasons. For motivational reasons, Champ and his coaching staff have so far divided the 2010 season into two sections. The first was the WPIAL regular season, in which the Warriors earned a share of the Section 4-AAA title with rival Thomas Jefferson. And then the second was the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs. In that "season" EF earned its first postseason victory since winning the Class AAA championship in 1976. "I think we met a lot of our goals this season," Champ, whose team fell just one game short of defeating eventual WPIAL champion Hopewell in a heartbreaking 5-3 semifinal loss last week, said. "I would have liked to play for a WPIAL championship, that would have been one of our goals." When EF (19-5) takes on District 10 champion Corry (17-3) in both teams' first ever PIAA first-round playoff game Monday at Jerry Uht Park in Erie it will have a chance to erase the memories of disappointment in regards to the end of its second season. With the beginning of their much-desired "third" season, Champ and his Warriors are hoping that Jerry Uht Park, home of the Detroit Tigers' Double-A affiliate Erie SeaWolves, will be the staging ground for their team's first ever state playoff victory. Not to mention the site of where their run to a PIAA championship could take place. "States was a goal for us getting there and we accomplished that," Champ said. "Like I've said a couple other times I've tried to stress to them to not be content with what you've done. I know for us this is just uncharted territory. We've never done it in our school history, but I'm trying to keep them focused in the sense of not being content." As historic as the Warriors' 2010 campaign has been so far, Corry has enjoyed just as much success this season. For the first time in school history, the Beavers won a District 10 Championship with a 10-5 victory over Warren on Monday. "This year's been a lot of firsts for us," seventh-year Corry coach Mike Daniels said. "Our first District 10 championship. Our first time in the state playoffs. I guess it's the first time in the high school state playoffs. These kids have been in the state playoffs for Little League all-stars, so they just look at it as another tournament right now and we'll see what goes just try to buy ourselves another game each night." Doing much of the heavy lifting for the Beavers this season has been the tandem of Scottie Frisina and Aaron Cressley. Both All-Region First-Team All-Stars, the pair have stacked up some tremendous statistics to lead Corry both at the plate and on the mound. Frisina has compiled a 7-1 record with a 2.22 ERA and 58 strikeouts so far this season, while Cressley has been nearly equal to his teammate's task. He is 6-0 this season with a 2.77 ERA, 58 strikeouts and just 19 walks. Which one of Corry's ace pitchers will take the mound for their 6:30 p.m. first pitch on Monday, however, is still up in the air. "If we're just going back and forth it's Frisina's turn to start," Daniels said. "That's how we have been doing it, but I don't know. I have to look at defensive lineups and where we're stronger." One thing Daniels won't have to worry about is which of his two stars will be plugged in the batting order. Cressley is the Beavers' leading hitter with a .508 batting average. Frisina is hitting at a .403 clip with 20 RBIs, six home runs and nine steals. Considering the tough competition the Warriors have faced in their run through the WPIAL regular season and playoffs, Champ is positive his team will be ready to handle Corry's dynamic duo. "I haven't seen the kids pitch to our batters, but I think we've faced some tough competition all throughout our season," Champ said. "From down south to our section and then Hopewell and Mt. Pleasant and Trinity. I think it's going to be a tough challenge for us, but I think we're a pretty good team. I have a lot of faith in our kids." "Bottom line," the coach added, "it's going to come down to us pitching and fielding and hitting well." The Warriors will look to continue their considerable offensive success achieved through the postseason, in which Champ's team has outscored their opponents, 23-12. That run support will only benefit EF's strong pitching staff in Dan Altavilla and Tony Totedo. Totedo turned in a dominant performance in the Warriors' 6-1 WPIAL quarterfinal victory over Trinity, while Altavilla has been his team's ace pitcher all season. With a solid pair of pitchers and a rejuvenated batting order led by standout catcher Buddy Wilson and lead-off hitter Mike Pohodich, EF is ready to begin its third season in style and eventually end it with a state title. "Just like we've done through our other seasons, as we're calling it, we're just going one game at a time," Champ said of his team's prospects to win PIAA gold.

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