Four C-M players headline all-state softball teams

July 7, 2014
Linda Rush helped anchor the Big Macs’ defense at shortstop. The Canon-McMillan sophomore finished with 38 RBI and scored 40 runs. - Eleanor Bailey / The Almanac

Canon-McMillan was the talk of WPIAL softball this season. The defending PIAA Class AAAA champion was on a tear with a heavy-hitting lineup that ranked among the nation’s leaders in home runs with 52.

The Big Macs (18-5) did not lose a game to a WPIAL opponent until their 17th game of the season and reached the WPIAL title game, losing to Shaler, 9-5.

While Canon-McMillan bowed out of the state playoffs with a first-round loss to DuBois, the Big Macs were well-represented on the Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association’s All-State Softball teams.

Senior third baseman Olivia Lorusso, sophomore shortstop Linda Rush, senior catcher Gia Zeremenko and junior outfielder Abby McCartney received first-team honors. C-M is the lone school with four first-team honorees in Class AAAA.

“I was blown away when I saw all four of them made first team,” Canon-McMillan head coach Michele Moeller said. “We didn’t go as far this year, so I wasn’t sure if those girls would get the postseason accolades, but it’s amazing. I’m so proud of them.”

Lorusso, who was named the Observer-Reporter Softball Player of the Year, batted .532 with a team-high 16 home runs and 46 RBI. Rush was a first-team all-district selection and batted .571 with a team-high 48 hits, 40 runs and 16 doubles.

Zeremenko, a Pitt recruit, did not commit an error and batted .438 with five home runs, 24 RBI, 32 hits and just two strikeouts in 79 plate appearances. McCartney, who will join Lorusso at Robert Morris, led the Big Macs with a .575 average, while adding 12 home runs, 45 RBI, 42 hits and 36 runs. She struck out only twice in 84 plate appearances.

While Canon-McMillan will be forced to replace Lorusso and Zeremenko, the future is bright with Rush and McCartney returning in 2015.

“Linda put herself on the map with that home run in the state championship game (in 2013) and Abby has been at it for a while,” Moeller said. “It’s a huge motivator for those two. They want to get back to receiving those awards and you have to be in the state playoffs to get those. Hopefully, we can get another one next year.”

Trinity (16-3), which fell just short of a section title and won a playoff game against Uniontown, had two players on the Class AAA first team: junior shortstop Olivia Gray and sophomore catcher/first baseman Delaney Elling.

Gray, a Pitt recruit, batted .554 with eight doubles, five home runs, 32 stolen bases and 32 RBI. Elling, who will play at Penn State, led the Hillers with 39 hits, 11 doubles and a .684 batting average. She also tied Gray with 32 RBI.

“I’m very excited,” Trinity head coach Shawn Gray said. “Both of them became more consistent hitters. They did well in all of the big games. The consistency of their hitting improved greatly. Defensively, they have been solid, but their hitting was the big difference.”

South Fayette junior pitcher Ashley Iagnemma received Class AAA honorable mention. Iagnemma led the Lions (14-2) to their first section title with a 1.80 ERA and 151 strikeouts. She had a 14-2 record and batted .400 with a team-high 30 RBI.

In Class AA, Waynesburg junior third baseman Hannah Gibbons was a first-team selection and McGuffey senior pitcher Cassie Weiss received second-team honors. Gibbons, a Penn recruit, batted .614 with three home runs and 26 RBI, and Weiss led the WPIAL in strikeouts with 175 in 102 innings.

Waynesburg (13-9) was elminated in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals by Keystone Oaks and McGuffey (14-4) lost in the quarterfinals to Deer Lakes.

Despite reaching the PIAA quarterfinals, Burgettstown (18-6) did not have a player receive Class A all-state honors.

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