The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 13, 2014

Area squads seeded in D6 softball

A pair of area teams earned top seeds in the upcoming District 6 softball tournament, which is set to get underway on Thursday.

Conemaugh Valley (17-1) is the top seed in Class A while Penn Cambria (18-0) is in the top spot in Class AA. Both teams have first-round byes.

“Since these girls have been in ponytails, they have put in a lot of time and played some good ball and this is a dream for them,” said Blue Jays’ coach Paula McCleester, who is in her 17th season with the team. “We know we have a target on us and we have to come and play the way we are capable of and each girl has to do her job.”

Penn Cambria seventh-year coach John Casale said you never know how it’s going to work out with the seedings.

“We were hoping to get the top seed when you’re 18-0,” the Penn Cambria coach said. “It will be nice to get the week off and get some extra practice in. We know who our opponent will be, either Juniata or Westmont. It would be nice to face Westmont from the LHAC, but it would be interesting to have a rematch against Juniata, who knocked us out of the playoffs last season. In the playoffs you are going to face a lot of good teams.”

The coach says he has mixed feeling about being unbeaten at this point in the season.

“We’ve been involved in some games where there was real pressure this season and we’ve handled it pretty well,” Casale said. “We’ve had several one-run games including one Friday with Bishop Carroll where we won 2-1. We never set being undefeated as one of our goals, but it just came about. Pressure is what you make of it.”

The Panthers’ pitcher Kelly Yusko has been one of the strong senior leaders on the team.

“When Kelly gets between 10 to 15 strikeouts per game, she makes your defense look pretty good,” Casale said. “This senior class is a very determined group.

“There have been a lot of firsts with this group, we had never won our conference before last year and now we won our second conference title. We hadn’t been to the playoffs before. I told the girls I had to reevalute my goals from when I took over. It says a lot for the quality of the girls. Now we hope we can have another first where we play for a district title. We have to continue to play within ourselves and to not make mistakes and if we do make a mistake, not to compound it. We are who we are.”

The lone game in Class A Thursday has No. 9 Ferndale at eighth-seeded Homer-Center. The winner of the first-round game will play the Blue Jays in the quarterfinals on Monday. The other quarterfinal matchups in Class A have fifth-seeded Southern Huntingdon at No. 4 Portage while No. 6 West Branch is at No. 3 Bishop Carroll and No. 2 Claysburg-Kimmel hosts No. 7 Purchase Line.

The semifinals will be May 22 with the title game on May 28 at Nittany Lion Park.

Seven Class AA games are set for Thursday with area teams involved in five of them. No. 9 Westmont Hilltop travels to eighth-seeded Juniata, No. 12 Ligonier Valley journeys to fifth-seeded Bellwood-Antis, No. 14 Cambria Heights is at No. 3 Marion Center, No. 11 Bishop McCort faces sixth-seeded Blairsville and No. 15 Central Cambria plays at second-seeded Philipsburg-Osceola.

The other two games have No. 13 Penns Valley at fourth-seeded Bald Eagle Area and No. 10 Mount Union at No. 7 Central.

The quarterfinals will be May 19 while the semifinals are May 22 and the championship in State College on May 28.

All games are set for 4 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

The deadline for Class AAA is on Thursday and will be announced at a later date.


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