By Chris Rossetti
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Things are starting to get real for two District 9 baseball and two District 9 softball teams, as they sit three wins from state titles entering Thursday’s PIAA quarterfinals.
Both of Moniteau’s teams are still alive, while the DuBois Central Catholic softball team and Punxsutawney baseball team continue to play.
Here is a brief look at each game involving District 9 teams.
CLASS AA SOFTBALL
(9-1) Moniteau (22-1) vs. (7-1) Ellwood City (21-0)
When and where: 1 p.m. at Slippery Rock University
Winner plays: Winner of the (6-1) Philipsburg-Osceola vs. (7-2) South Park game Monday at a site and time to be determined.
How they got here: Moniteau beat Everett 6-0 in the opening round Tuesday; Ellwood City, which is actually Lincoln High School in the Ellwood City High School, topped Bald Eagle Area 10-0 in five innings also Tuesday
About Moniteau: The Warriors’ strength starts in the circle with junior Kennedy DeMatteis, who sports a 0.79 ERA with 12 shutouts and six no-hitters. She has struck out 218 in 124 innings of work, including 13 in the win over Everett and 27 in her last two outings, while walking 39. DeMatteis is also strong at the plate hitting .578 with two home runs, 12 doubles, three triples and 48 RBIs. She is one of five Moniteau regulars hitting at least .500 including two over .600. Gabby Stewart, an all-around athlete who also won the James Manner Award as the highest-scoring female track athlete at the District 9 championships, is hitting .652 with a home run, six doubles, three triples, 26 stolen bases and 15 RBIs. Cortney Claypoole comes in at .608 with a team-leading six home runs, six triples, nine doubles and 49 RBIs. She has stolen 17 bases. Also key for the Warriors offense is Kennedy DeMatteis twin sister, Kristina, who is hitting .553 with 11 doubles and 24 RBIs, while Sara Hull checks in at .508 with two home runs, seven doubles, a triple and 32 RBIs.
About Ellwood City: Like the Warriors, the Wolverines are loaded, and it starts with pitching. Junior Skyla Gecco leads own a 0.95 ERA with eight shutouts and three no-hitters. She has struck out 163 in 125 innings of work while walking 34 … Ellwood City can also hit with a team batting average of .408 led by two regulars hitting at least .500 with three more over .400 … The top hitters for the Wolverines is freshman Ariana Garroway, who is batting .561 with five home runs, 11 doubles, two triples and 31 RBIs. Allie McKelvey is hitting .500 with nine RBIs, but she missed the Bald Eagle game after suffering an ankle injury in the WPIAL title game against South Park and her availability for Thursday is unknown. But even if McKelvey can’t play, Ellwood City has plenty of other hitters including Mallory Swogger (.450, 4 HRs, 4 2B, 1 3B, 23 RBIs), Camille Maine (.435, 4 HR, 9 2B, 34 RBIs), Reagan Mittler (.418, 1 HR, 8 2B, 1 3B, 18 RBIs), Anna Ferrucci (.397) and Zoe Kalantzis (.368, 11 RBIs).
Note: The teams have one common opponent this season, Neshannock. Moniteau beat Neshannock 11-0 May 11, while Ellwood City topped Neshannock three times beating it 11-8 April 15, 13-3 in five innings April 26 and 11-4 in the opening round of the WPIAL championships May 18.
Who will win: Moniteau has the look of a team on a mission to face Philipsburg-Osceola, the only squad to beat them this year. This one will be a low-scoring, tight game but Moniteau’s team speed will help the Warriors score the victory.
CLASS A SOFTBALL
(9-1) DuBois Central Catholic (23-0) vs. (6-1) Conemaugh Valley (21-0)
When and where: 5 p.m. at Bald Eagle High School
Winner plays: Winner of the (7-1) West Greene vs. (10-1) Saegertown game Monday at a site and time to be determined.
How they got here: DCC beat Windber 16-1 in three innings, while Conemaugh Valley topped Chartiers-Houston 12-7.
About DCC: Riley Assalone has been nearly unhittable in the circle for DCC and has a 0.55 ERA while giving up 58 hits in 102 ⅔ innings of work. She has struck out 125 and walked 23 while going 18-0. Assalone is also a key part of a Cardinals offense that is hitting .467 as a team with a team OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.172. She is hitting .449 with seven doubles and 18 RBIs. Jordy Frank leads the offense hitting .699 with 12 home runs, 11 doubles, eight triples and 41 RBIs while putting together and OPS of 2.170. Freshman Ashley Wruble chips in with a .580 average with one home runs, six doubles, two triples and 37 RBIs, while Macy Hanes is hitting .585 with four doubles, three triples (two in her last two games), three home runs and 23 RBIs. Stephanie Rossi is also hitting .459 with 28 RBIs.
About Conemaugh Valley: The Blue Jays have allowed just 17 runs on the year led by Melanie Lint, who has a 0.84 ERA with 13 shutouts with seven no-hitters and two perfect games. She has 171 strikeouts in 92 innings of work while walking just eight … Offensively, Conemaugh Valley is hitting .466 as a team led by Kara Pisczek, who is hitting .591 with six home runs and nine doubles and 29 RBIs, while Lint is hitting .574 with five home runs, nine doubles, three triples and 37 RBIs. Brooke McCleester (.537, 26 RBIs) and Tessa Gunby (.526, 4 HRs, 6 2B, 23 RBIs) are also hitting over .500.
Note: Both teams played Windber this year and had their way with the District 5 runner-up with DCC getting the three-inning win Monday and Conemaugh Valley beating Windber twice, once by a count of 16-0 in four innings April 6 then 9-0 May 11 … The Blue Jays have rarely been tested this season. In fact, Chartiers-Houston scoring seven runs in the PIAA first-round game nearly doubles the amount of runs Conemaugh Valley had allowed this year (from 10 to 17). The Blue Jays beat 13 teams by at least 10 runs and six teams by at least 15 runs. That included a ridiculous 41-0 win over North Star, a 27-1 win over Portage and a 20-0 victory over Blacklick Valley. Last year, the Blue Jays weren’t quite as dominant in going 21-2 but reached the state title game before losing 7-0 to Elk County Catholic, a team that eliminated DCC, 7-2, in the District 9 semifinals last season.
Who will win: This is another case where it’s going to be a low-scoring game. But this time, the District 9 team is going to come up short, as the Conemaugh Valley’s experience in going to last year’s title game will help them get the victory.
CLASS AA BASEBALL
(9-1) Moniteau (17-3) vs. (7-1) Riverside (21-2)
When and where: 1 p.m. at Slippery Rock University’s Jack Critchfield Park
Winner plays: Winner of the (6-1) Bishop McCort vs. (7-2) Neshannock Monday at a site and time to be determined.
How they got here: Moniteau edged Girard, 5-3, while Riverside shutout Central-Martinsburg, 2-0.
About Moniteau: The Warriors could have a pitching issue heading into this game considering its top two starters – Derek Boben and Aaron Marterella – were both needed in the first-round victory. Boben lasted only into the third inning before wildness drove him from the game and could get the call against Riverside. On the season, Boben is 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He has struck out 70, walked 24 and hit four in 49 innings of work while teams are batting .174 off of him … Offensively, Boben leads the way hitting .345, while Marterella is batting .314 with 16 RBIs. Jake Jewart chimes in at .358 with 15 RBIs, while Zach Adamson is hitting .356 with 14 RBIs and Josh Adamson .322 … Nick Sosigian would be next in line for on the mound for the Warriors having pitched 18 ⅓ innings with a 1.53 ERA.
About Riverside: Riverside hasn’t given up a run in the postseason – not in four WPIAL games nor one PIAA games – outscoring its opponents 25-0, although the last three wins have been by counts of 2-0, 1-0 in nine innings and 2-0 … On the year, the Panthers have given up just 26 runs, 21 earned, for a team ERA of a mind-boggling 1.01. Michael Boswell leads the group with a 0.57 ERA and an 8-1 record with 86 strikeouts in 61 innings, and he didn’t pitch vs. Central-Martinsburg and will most likely get the nod vs. Moniteau. He gave up three hits in nine innings in a 1-0 win over Neshannock in the WPIAL title game May 31, his last outing … Offensively, Jason Dambach leads Riverside hitting .429 with 13 RBIs, while Cristian Cicchinelli is hitting .369 with 17 RBIs, Austin Dambach chips in at .366 with eight doubles and 19 RBIs and Braden Bentel is hitting .354 with 12 RBIs.
Who will win: Moniteau’s story has been great this year with the school winning its first District 9 baseball title and a PIAA game to boot. But Riverside hasn’t given up a run in 34 innings since Hopewell scored four in the bottom of the sixth May 11. May 11! That’s nearly a month without giving up a run. Even if Moniteau can find a way to scratch across a run or two, will the Warriors have enough pitching to keep Riverside in check? This one goes to the Panthers.
CLASS AAA BASEBALL
(9-1) Punxsutawney (18-4) vs. (3-1) Hamburg (18-8)
When and where: 4 p.m. at Greene Township Field in Scotland
Winner plays: Winner of the (6-1) Bellefonte vs. (10-1) Erie Cathedral Prep Monday at a site and time to be determined.
How they got here: Punxsutawney knocked off Blackhawk, 3-2, in a game that started Monday and finished Tuesday in DuBois. Hamburg beat Franklin Towne out of Philadelphia, 5-0.
About Punxsutawney: The Chucks are battle tested and have lost just once since coming home from a spring trip to Virginia, a 6-4 eight-inning loss to Williamsport April 18, and ride a 12-game win streak into this contest … Punxsutawney will be without ace John Matthews in this game after Matthews tossed a complete-game in the win over Blackhawk Monday/Tuesday. Even if the game had been played all on Monday, it would have been doubtful that Matthews, who is headed to Kent State next season, would have been available for Thursday. So it will be up to No. 2 pitcher Lance Pennington to get the Chucks to the semifinals. Pennington last pitched May 19 in a 13-0 win over Altoona and was good allowing two hits and striking out five while not walking in a batter in getting the victory. Punxsutawney’s offense is steady and has shown an ability to have timely hitting throughout the season while getting contributions one through nine. Leadoff hitter Braxton Giavedoni brings a speed element to the top of the lineup, while Matthews and Pennington anchor the middle and Peyton Graham, Lucas Ambler and Brandon Matthews give the bottom of the lineup the ability to create offense.
About Hamburg: The Hawks have been about pitching and have recorded three straight postseason shutouts and four shutouts in their last five games. It’s also been a bit of a surprise run for Hamburg to this point after they started the year just 11-8 and were the 14th seed in the District 3 tournament. The Hawks needed nine innings to get a first-round win in that tournament and have been rolling ever since entering the PIAA quarterfinals on a seven-game win streak … Ryan Smith pitched Hamburg to the D3 title throwing a three-hitter but needing 131 pitches to do it while striking out six in a June 2 title-game win. Janson Youndt, a lefty, then threw a 77-pitch shutout in the PIAA opener striking out six while giving up two hits and walking one. Look for Smith to get the call against Punxsutawney … Hamburg’s offense is a lot like Punxsutawney’s in the fact it can manufacture runs. Smith was 2-for-3 in the D3 title game win and had the big hit with a bases-clearing triple. He added an RBI in the PIAA game Monday. Logan Adams also had a double in the PIAA game that saw Hamburg’s offense draw seven walks off the Franklin Towne starter.
Who will win: I really like Punxsutawney in this game. I would love the Chucks if Matthews was going, but I still like them. I think their experience in big games will be the difference against a team that is just riding the high of a Cinderella Run.