Softball, baseball finalists had postseason success

April 3, 2014

It was a year of playoff payoffs for the finalists in the Coach of the Year categories of softball and baseball.

Tricia Alderson of Chartiers-Houston, Dave Briggs of Carmichaels and Michele Moeller of Canon-McMillan enjoyed banner seasons that stretched beyond the regular season.

It was the same for Don Hartman of California, Scott Van Sickle of Carmichaels and Frank Zebrasky of Canon-McMillan.

These six coaches are finalists for this year’s Tri-County Athletic Directors Coach of the Year Banquet, which will be held April 27 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in the Meadow Lands.

The winner of each category will be announced at the banquet. Baseball and softball finalists were voted on for their performances in the 2013 season.

Tickets for the banquet are $35 apiece and are on sale at Washington High School, 201 Allison Avenue, Washington, Pa., 15301. Reservations can be made by calling athletic director Joe Nicolella at 724-223-5085, ext. 2091.

All proceeds from the banquet benefit Special Olympics.

Under Alderson, the Bucs had another strong season. Chartiers-Houston won all 12 games to win the Section 2-AA title and earn a spot in the WPIAL playoffs. Behind the strong pitching of Kayla Briggs, the Bucs registered 13 shutouts, including six in a row at midseason, in compiling a 19-2 record.

Chartiers-Houston defeated OLSH (10-0) and Mohawk (8-4) to reach the semifinals, where the Bucs fell to Riverside, 4-0. In the state tournament, Chartiers-Houston was beaten by Phillipsburg-Osceola 4-1 in the first round.

Carmichaels came within one win of a perfect section record and that loss to Frazier made the Mikes co-champions in Section 2-A. The two teams traded one-run wins and both made the WPIAL playoffs with 13-1 record.

Behind the pitching of Erica Burns and a strong defense, the Mikes shut out their first three opponents – Riverview (10-0), Jeannette, (15-0) and Burgettstown (9-0) – before arriving at the championship game. There, the Mikes lost to Neshannock, 10-4.

In the state tournament, Carmichaels won a wild, 13-9 game over Saegertown before losing to Southern Huntingdon, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. Carmichaels finished with a 22-4 record.

It was a historic season for Canon-McMillan as Moeller led the Big Macs to the Class AAAA state title, the first in the program’s history. Canon-McMillan won its final 23 games of the season, including seven in the postseason. Behind the clutch pitching of Alayna Astuto and one of the most powerful hitting lineups in the state, C-M won the Section 4-AAAA title with a 14-0 record.

Astuto surrendered only seven runs in the postseason. The Big Macs shut out Penn-Trafford, 6-0, and avenged their only loss of the season with a 5-0 win over Hempfield to reach the WPIAL championship game. They downed North Allegheny, 5-2, for the title. The Big Macs stopped Hempfield again, this time in the first round of the state tournament, before wins over North Allegheny (5-0) and Pennsbury (3-1) put C-M in the state finals. The Big Macs stopped Neshaminy, 4-3, to strike gold, thanks in part to Linda Rush’s two-run home run in the 12th inning.

Baseball finalists

In the final season of an illustrious coaching career, Hartman led the Trojans to a second-place finish in Section 1-A with an 8-2 record. In the WPIAL playoffs, Cal won two close games against Sewickley Academy, 7-4, and Riverview, 6-4, to reach the semifinals, where the Trojans were edged 2-1 by Our Lady of Sacred Heart. After winning the third-place game, 10-7, over Serra, Cal won twice, including avenging the loss to OLSH (6-3) in the PIAA playoffs before Johnsonburg stopped the run in the semifinals with an 8-1 victory.

Hartman coached 16 seasons at Cal, winning WPIAL titles in 2006 and 2001. In the final 10 years with the Trojans, Hartman had a 172-57-1 record. Cal finished the season with a 20-6 record.

Van Sickle led the Mikes to the Section 1-A title, edging rival California by one game with a 9-1 record. Carmichaels won 10 of its last 12 games in the regular season.

In the WPIAL playoffs, Carmichaels rolled over Frazier, 10-0, before being eliminated by Western Beaver, 6-1, in the semifinals. Carmichaels finished the season with a 13-4 record.

Zebrasky lifted Canon-McMillan from a staggered start at the beginning of the season to a playoff team at the end. The Big Macs lost four of their first five games but went 10-3 over the final 13 regular-season games to win Section 4, one of Class AAAA’s toughest.

In the WPIAL playoffs, Canon-McMillan knocked off Moon (11-6) before losing to Hempfield, 7-3.

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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