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Pitt softball coach earns first victory

| Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

It took a little longer than she had hoped, but first-year Pitt softball coach Holly Aprile finally earned her first victory with the Panthers, who closed out five-game series at the Florida Atlantic Kick-Off Classic with a 4-0 win over Maryland.

The Panthers dropped their first four games in the tournament — 3-1 on two occasions and 2-1 on two others.

Next up for Pitt (31-25 last season) are trips to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Alabama-Birmingham tournaments to close out the month. Pitt also will compete in the George Washington and Winthrop tournaments before returning to Western Pennsylvania to visit Robert Morris for a March 17 doubleheader.

Aprile was named Pitt's coach last July after serving as a Panthers assistant coach the previous five seasons.

Opening Day

The Duquesne baseball team will open a two-week southern trip Saturday in Columbia, S.C., by helping South Carolina christen its new, $36 million ballpark.

The teams will play a three-game series through Monday at Carolina Stadium.

Duquesne is led by senior outfielder Mike Carroll, who batted .347 last season with a team-best 14 doubles. He was third in home runs (7) and RBI (41).

Last week, Carroll was named to the Rivals.com Atlantic 10 preseason all-conference team.

Staying home

Former WPIAL players have helped spark the Washington & Jefferson women's basketball team to a No. 18 ranking in NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com.

While the Presidents (20-3, 10-2 Presidents' Athletic Conference) are led by senior forward Emily Hays (16.1 ppg.), two former WPIAL players also have been instrumental in Washington & Jefferson's emergence.

Junior guard Kennan Killeen, a Mt. Lebanon product, is averaging 10.1 points per game, and junior forward Maggie Gibson, from Greensburg Central Catholic, is fourth all-time at the school in rebounding with 805.

More hoops

Slippery Rock's 82-72 men's basketball victory over No. 4 Gannon in an NCAA Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference game was terrific in its own rite. Making it more impressive was knowing that the Rock had lost to the Golden Tornadoes earlier this season by 20 points.

Senior forward Denell Stephens scored 21 points for Slippery Rock (15-7, 6-3) in Wednesday's victory.

Meanwhile, Robert Morris earned a vote in The Associated Press Top 25 poll last season.

The Northeast Conference-leading Colonials (19-8, 13-1) also received a vote in this week's poll and entered the obscure CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll at No. 23.

Ready, aim...

The West Virginia rifle team, which has produced the highest score in a match this season, is ranked No. 1 in the College Rifle Coaches' Association poll.

The Mountaineers (11-1, 6-1 Great America Rifle Conference) shot a school-record 4,677 in a victory over North Carolina State in January. They beat the 18th-ranked Wolfpack again Saturday in an NCAA qualifying match.

Kentucky, which handed West Virginia its only loss in November, fell to No. 2 in the poll.

In remembrance

St. Francis (Pa.) remembered Mary Ann Opfar during its college basketball doubleheader against Sacred Heart on Saturday.

Opfar, the wife of St. Francis football coach Dave Opfar, died after a long battle with cancer.

St. Francis athletic director Bob Krimmel called Mary Ann Opfar "a person of great courage."

Dave Opfar, a McKeesport native who attended South Allegheny and Penn State, has coached at St. Francis for seven seasons. He's a former assistant coach at Duquesne and Washington & Jefferson.

Opfar spent the 1986 NFL strike year with the Steelers after starting at defensive tackle for two seasons at Penn State, where he was a member of the Nittany Lions' 1982 national championship team.

Elsewhere

• West Virginia sophomore shortstop Jedd Gyorko was named to The Sporting News 2009 Preseason College All-America Team.

• Robert Morris skating instructors Marsha Snyder and Peter Rodgers-Fischl have qualified to travel to Harbin, China, to compete this week in ice dancing at the World University Winter Games, also known as the Winter Universiade.

• Westmoreland County Community College freshman Jamie Henry set a NJCAA Division III rebounding record with 35 in a victory over Butler County Community College.

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