East Xtra: Greensburg Salem bows out in quarterfinals
June 13, 2013 8:00 AM
Ambridge's Lauren Sivewright gets into second base safely as Greensburg Salem's Claire Oberdorf reaches for a throw.
By Nicholas Tolomeo Tri-State Sports & News Service
It was a performance befitting the type of player Greensburg Salem's Jayne Oberdorf is ... even if the result was not befitting.
Pitching in the PIAA Class AAA softball quarterfinals Saturday, Oberdorf fired a one-hitter against District 10 champion Fort LeBoeuf. It was a performance many have come to expect from Oberdorf, but it was a result that has rarely happened to Greensburg Salem.
Two first-inning errors allowed Fort LeBoeuf to score a run and win, 1-0, despite producing just one hit against Oberdorf.
The loss did not take away from what was a historic season for Greensburg Salem. The team finished 22-3 overall. A year after reaching the WPIAL semifinals, only to lose 2-1, the Golden Lions captured their first WPIAL softball championship. They also won the Class AAA Section 4 title for a third consecutive season.
"I think we wish we were still playing," Greensburg Salem coach Jody Morgan said. "We are a little disappointed, we are happy we got as far as we got, but we just keep thinking about it over and over and still feel we could have reached the finals."
Greensburg Salem was ranked No. 1 most of the season among district Class AAA teams and was the top seed in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
"We were on a mission," Morgan said. "I felt like everyone was going after us year round."
Despite the disappointment in the PIAA tournament, the WPIAL championship run was still a special feeling for all involved, especially Morgan, a veteran multi-sport coach.
"It is the best feeling in the world," Morgan said. "I've coached so many seasons in softball, basketball and tennis, and this is what I think you work for. Your entire career you think about winning a WPIAL championship."
Oberdorf and senior catcher Taylor Mehan helped make that a reality.
Oberdorf started at shortstop as a freshman before taking over the pitching duties as a sophomore and leading her team to three section titles along the way. Mehan was a four-year starter.
Oberdorf is a Marist College recruit. Marist reached the NCAA Division I regionals this year where it lost to eventual national champion Oklahoma. Mehan is a Saint Vincent College recruit.
The highly decorated duo was both named all-state honorable mention as sophomores and all-state second team as juniors.
"See what I'm losing -- maybe I should retire," joked Morgan who retired from teaching this year but decided to return to coach at least one more season of softball next year.
It is easy to see why Morgan is returning. It will be tough to replace Oberdorf, Mehan and starting senior first baseman Sydney Bacha, but the cupboard is far from empty.
Junior second baseman Kellie Hutchinson, junior center fielder Karly Mellinger and sophomore shortstop Claire Oberdorf, Jayne's younger sister, headline a strong returning nucleus. Morgan hopes that the younger Oberdorf can make the same move, shortstop to pitcher, that her older sister did three years ago.
"Supposedly when they were little, Claire was the better pitcher," Morgan said. "I have a lot of good kids coming back, I still think I am going to hang in there. Between Hutchinson, Oberdorf and Mellinger, you cannot find three better players to have come back."
While Jayne Oberdorf was a tough-luck loser in the PIAA quarterfinals, the performance was quintessential.
"She just pitched so great in the playoffs," Morgan said. "There was nothing more we could have asked of her. She pitched every game like it was her last game, she pitched her heart at. She is the best pitcher I have ever been around."