Mike Kovak

Column Mike Kovak

Mike Kovak is assistant night editor at the Observer-Reporter.

Scary to think what C-M softball can become

June 16, 2013

Michele Moeller had finished one postgame interview when she shouted to a group of reporters standing nearby.

“You guys need me or can I go?” the Canon-McMillan softball coach asked, wondering if her media obligations were fulfilled.

I asked her to stay.

Had to.

With what Canon-McMillan did last Friday – crawl out from under that rock and realize the Big Macs beat Neshaminy, 4-3, in 12 innings for their first state title – Moeller’s bunch, a group that shows more visible jubilation than a toddler on Christmas, blowing up Twitter at every turn, has become a hot commodity.

Moeller wasn’t going anywhere.

Funny, too, because neither are some of her best players.

It’s actually scary to think how good this group can be.

Pitcher Alayna Astuto will graduate, though the guess here is the Big Macs’ coaches realized that long ago.

Then again, with hitters such as shortstop Linda Rush, right fielder Abby McCartney, third baseman Olivia Lorusso and catcher Giorgiana Zeremenko – all but Rush went directly from Penn State to a showcase tournament in Pennsbury – you might be able to roll a JUGS machine out there and be OK.

• One downer that came out of the PIAA final: the international tiebreaker rule.

Triggered in the 10th inning, the rule puts a runner on second base to start the frame.

This feels cheap, like a shootout deciding a playoff hockey game.

Canon-Mac scored two runs without a hit in the 10th and 11th innings. Neshaminy wouldn’t have scored either of its runs had it not been for the ITB.

Let the kids decide the outcome, not a quirky rule designed to speed up games.

They’ve earned the right to play on this stage. Believe me, I can – and would love to – wait for them to play it out.

Fortunately, Rush’s two-run homer in the top of the 12th made that a moot point.

• As a reporter, you see a lot of neat things.

Such as Rush, trying to tamp down nerves and talk about her homer – only to hear Moeller crack as she walked by, “Linda, love ya, great hit, hun. But grab that milk crate on your way out.”

Still a freshman, right?

Another was walking up the steps and out of Penn State’s Nittany Lion Softball Park with Moeller, watching her turn right and witness a sea of blue and gold standing at the steps, chanting and cheering.

Nowhere to be found, I was thinking, was a contract dispute, a labor strike or an assault charge.

Simply high school kids, coaches, teachers and parents celebrating a special moment, one that far too often gets buried by what happens in pro sports.

It’s why people such as me – and my predecessor, Mike Kovak – believe so strongly in sports at the grass-roots level.

• The Big Macs won a state title for many reasons, but one of the biggest had to be that few teams – at least from my vantage point – are closer, enjoy each other’s company more or are singularly focused on the same goal.

Credit the coaches and the parents who raised them, but most of all credit these kids. Very mature and fun to cover.

And an absolute riot on Twitter.

• Explain something to me.

Wash High’s track and field team got a police escort down Jefferson Avenue after winning a second consecutive WPIAL team title this spring.

Canon-Mac apparently rode into downtown Canonsburg on fire trucks around 9:30 Friday night.

Apparently celebrating via municipal vehicle is the thing to do?

Can’t we just turn this into a parade?

And maybe the next day … or at least after I file my story?

Jason Mackey can be reached at jmackey@observer-reporter.com.



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