The Varsity Letters
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West Greene's Bennington sets career strikeout mark; other notes from Tuesday's games

Bailey Bennington can add herself to West Greene’s record books after the senior starting pitcher struck out 13 batters Tuesday in a loss to Monessen. Bennington reached the 300 career strikeouts mark and is also the Pioneers’ best hitter.
Monessen found a way around that by walking Bennington in all four of her plate appearances. The strategy worked as the Greyhounds led West Greene scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning. It is a devastating loss for the Pioneers, who are battling for the final playoff spot in arguably the most competitive section in Class A.
With games against Carmichaels, Frazier and Jefferson-Morgan remaining on the schedule, the Pioneers will likely have to beat two of those three teams to have a shot at the WPIAL postseason.

·         South Fayette’s softball team moved into second place in Section 2-AAA Tuesday with a 13-7 win over Montour. The Lions are a half-game behind first-place Trinity. The Spartans have received a ton of publicity this season after receiving a few transfers from the now-defunct Sto-Rox softball program.

A few writers chose them as the favorite to win the section, but it seems to be a two-team race between the Hillers and South Fayette. While Trinity’s offense is tough to match, the Lions have something the Hillers do not – a shutdown starting pitcher. Junior Ashley Iagnemma displayed why the Lions should not be counted out when she struck out 17 against Montour and went 5-for-5 at the plate with six RBI.

The Hillers do have two future Division I players, but with the Lions hitting the way they are and with Iagnemma on the mound, it will make for an interesting story to watch as the second half of the season moves forward. 

·         Canon-McMillan’s baseball team took a step in the right direction with a 17-2 victory over Brashear Tuesday. The Big Macs found themselves in must-win situations against the Bulls and responded admirably.

Senior Teagan Piechnick hit a three-run home run in Tuesday’s win and junior Jared Beach added a solo home run. Canon-McMillan has only lost two section games, but with the ultra-competitive nature of Section 5-AAAA, the slightest slip can cost a team a playoff spot.

The Big Macs will face Upper St. Clair Thursday and the Panthers will likely be missing a few key players. Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park were engaged in a benches-clearing brawl Tuesday, which will ultimately lead to suspensions of a few players. It will give Canon-McMillan another opportunity to climb back into the race for a section title
·         Peters Township also helped Canon-McMillan out by losing Mt.Lebanon, 9-2. The Indians and Big Macs battled through nine innings in their last meeting, which makes their next matchup May 2 very intriguing. With the landscape of Section 5-AAAA, that game could hold serious playoff implications.
·         Washington fell to Brownsville Tuesday and with Chartiers-Houston grabbing a win, the Bucs have taken control of first place in Section 2-AA. The two teams face each other next Monday with a section title potentially on the line.


Read full post: West Greene's Bennington sets career strikeout mark; other notes from Tuesday's games

Chartiers-Houston baseball on a roll in Class AA

C-H junior pitcher Alec Ferrari

After Chartiers-Houston's baseball team lost a close 2-0 game April 7 to Section 2-AA rival Wash High, Buccaneers head coach Vince Capozza gathered his team in right field of Washington Park's Colt Field.

Capozza was upset after his team stranded runners on base and failed to capitalize when the Prexies' offense struggled.

The first-year head coach made his team run sprints and while I’m sure the Chartiers-Houston players were disappointed about the extra work after a loss, they seem to have responded perfectly.

Since that rainy day, the Bucs are on a six-game winning streak that has them firmly in second place behind Wash High in the section and during that span they have averaged 6.5 runs per game.

It hasn’t been a one-man show either. Chartiers-Houston is winning on a team effort behind the strong pitching of junior Alec Ferrari. With one of the best defensive outfielders in Class AA – featuring senior left fielder Jake Jones, senior center fielder Miles Williamson and senior right fielder Tyler Day – the Bucs will be a handful.

Also, senior catcher Doug DiNardo adds a strong defensive presence behind the plate and an ability to drive in runs as C-H’s cleanup hitter. Many wondered how the Bucs would stack up in 2014 after reaching the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals last season. Under Capozza’s leadership, Chartiers-Houston looks destined to make noise once postseason play begins.

It always helps having a starting pitcher like Ferrari, who mixes a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, changeup and occasionally, a knuckleball. The junior has quickly established himself as a hard-throwing right hander with the ability to keep opponents guessing. In C-H’s 9-4 win over Brownsville on Wednesday, Ferrari struck out 11 and pitched a complete game.

It was one of the better pitching performances I have seen, especially considering the magnitude of the situation. Section 2-AA contains some of the best talent in the classification and a loss could have jeopardized the Bucs’ playoff hopes.

They snuck in last year by tying for third place with Bentworth, but down years for the Bearcats and Charleroi have the section standings looking clear-cut. It looks like Wash High, Chartiers-Houston (5-1, 7-1) and Brownsville will be postseason bound; barring a late-season collapse. The Prexies (6-1, 8-3) are finding offense from across their lineup and junior Jonathan Spina is starting to regain his 2013 form, while the Falcons (6-2, 7-4) have arguably the section’s best offensive player – junior catcher Shane Roebuck.

The Bucs have already completed the season-sweep of Brownsville, but a second matchup is looming with Wash High. The two teams face one another with a potential section title on the line April 28 at Allison Park Elementary in Houston.

After the first game ended with the eventual game-winning run scoring on a passed ball, it will be interesting to see if Chartiers-Houston’s players have revenge on their minds.
Read full post: Chartiers-Houston baseball on a roll in Class AA

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