Ford City softball team gets 'serious'
After finishing the Alle-Kiski League regular season with a 13-1 record, the Ford City Patriots' 18-and-under ASA team is taking on a new mindset as it embarks into the playoffs as the league's top seed.
"During the regular season, it's about having fun," coach Bill Richard said. "When it comes time for the playoffs, we get serious. The girls want to win, and it's altogether different."
Ford City has earned a bye in the first round of the tournament, which begins today, and won't learn its second-round opponent until tonight's games finish.
While that part of their playoff route is uncertain, the Patriots know exactly how they want things to play out.
"We're shooting to face Burrell in the championship," Richard said. "We played two games against them this year, and we split. Both games were a one-run difference. It's always a good competition when we play Burrell."
As it was in this year's regular season, a single run was the decider in last year's Alle-Kiski League championship, where Burrell edged Ford City in extra innings, 3-2. Burrell has the second seed in the playoffs this season.
Before getting a stab at a rematch, Ford City may have to go through another rival. Kittanning has a first-round home game at 6:30 tonight against Saxonburg No. 2 and will advance to play the Patriots with a win.
Kittanning lost both of its regular-season meetings with Ford City, though the most recent defeat was close, 1-0.
"We're hoping that we can get by the first round, and then, we'll have a third chance at beating Ford City," Kittanning coach Tom Copenhaver said. "We're hoping the third time is a charm."
Copenhaver agrees with his counterpart at Ford City that the more relaxed approach taken by players in the regular season in ASA softball falls by the wayside in the postseason.
"They do tend to take a different approach," Copenhaver said. "They know it's lose, and you go home."
Ford City's two 15-and-under teams also were awarded with first-round byes after they each ended the regular season atop the standings at 15-2. Ford City No. 1, however, took the tournament's first seed because of its win over Ford City No. 2 in the teams' only meeting this season.
Ford City No. 1 will play host to either Valley or North/South Buffalo on Wednesday, while Ford City No. 2 will face visiting West Sunbury at 6:30 tonight at the Pattonville VFW fields.