Quaker Valley's baseball season came to a close Monday, but not before the Quakers had one of the best seasons in school history.
The Quakers (23-2) had an undefeated regular season, a WPIAL Class AA runner-up finish and a PIAA semifinal appearance. They were just the second team in school history to reach the WPIAL baseball final, joining the 1984 squad that won the district title and suffered its only loss in the PIAA semifinals.
"I think the way I would characterize this season is the same way I would characterize our kids -- awesome," coach Todd Goble said following his team's 7-0 loss to Beaver Area in the Class AA state semifinals Monday at Pullman Park in Butler.
For the Quaker Valley seniors, it was a great way to go out after three seasons of sitting out the postseason. In fact, the Quakers hadn't made the playoffs since 2006 prior to this season and the 2012 squad was the first team in six years to have a winning record.
But everything came together this season under Goble, in his first year as Quaker Valley's coach after coaching Northgate for a number of seasons.
"It's about the players, not the coaches," Goble said. "Our senior leadership was outstanding. That was a big reason for our success."
The Quakers had seven seniors on the roster and although none of them had baseball playoff experience, many had been very successful in postseason play in other sports.
Senior outfielder Clayton Bouchard and senior infielder Ryan Dickson, along with sophomore infielder Adam Pilewicz, were among the top scorers for the QV hockey team the past two seasons that won back-to-back PIHL titles, a 2012 state title and 46 consecutive games.
Pilewicz's older brother, senior pitcher/infielder Jake Pilewicz, was the top defenseman on the 2012 state championship hockey team although he opted not to play last season.
Meanwhile, No. 3 hitter/center fielder Nelson Westwood played major roles on the Quaker Valley soccer team that won a WPIAL title and the basketball team that advanced to the district semifinals.
"We had a number of soccer, hockey and basketball players who have experienced a lot of winning," Goble said. "They took that experience and passed it down to our other players."
Game by game, the Quakers went through their schedule unscathed. The turning point may have been the sixth game of the season against Seton-LaSalle. The Quakers led by two runs heading into the final frame, only to see the Rebels plate four in the top of the seventh. But Quaker Valley responded with three runs of its own for the walk-off win.
"I think that's where our team really started to believe in itself," Goble said.
From there, only Beaver could take down the Quakers. The Bobcats defeated Quaker Valley in the WPIAL final and in Monday's state semifinal, the Quakers' only two losses.
Although Quaker Valley will graduate its strong senior class, Goble is confident the team isn't a flash in the pan.
"We're not going to have a big drop-off," Goble said. "This wasn't just a one-time-only deal. We'll be back."