Their high school careers ended with a loss, the sting of coming one game shy of reaching the state championship game, but the last four years of Chartiers-Houston High School softball will be remembered mostly for the victories.
There were 83 of them, 20 were in the postseason, two were in a WPIAL final and one was in a PIAA final.
"They have had a great career over these last four years," an emotional coach Tricia Alderson said of her seniors. "Their record has to be one of the best if not the best of any class here and there have been some pretty successful classes come through our program."
The Chartiers-Houston softball program has produced nine WPIAL championship teams since 1985.
This group was around for WPIAL titles in 2011 as well as this year and a PIAA title, the program's first ever, in 2010. That makes for three consecutive trips to the WPIAL finals and PIAA semifinals.
"Going this far three years in a row is pretty amazing," Alderson said shortly after the PIAA semifinal loss. "I don't think there are too many teams who have done it. At some point it will sink in, not right now, because it is really difficult to be that close two years in a row to the state championship game."
This season the Buccaneers dominated WPIAL competition, finishing the regular season 19-1. It activated the 10-run mercy rule in 17 of its 20 regular-season games.
They showed no mercy in the playoffs, earning 10-run wins against Riverview and Jefferson-Morgan to reach the WPIAL semifinals where they ran into postseason nemesis Vincentian. The Royals were the last WPIAL team to defeat Alderson's group, doing so in the 2010 WPIAL Class A final.
This time the Buccaneers prevailed with a 3-1 win to set up a WPIAL final against Carmichaels. The Buccaneers won that game, 3-2.
In the PIAA playoffs Chartiers-Houston blanked District 9 runner-up Brockway, 4-0, before edging District 10 champion Saegertown, 4-3, to reach the PIAA semifinals for the second consecutive season. Just like last season, a return trip to the PIAA final was not in the cards for the Buccaneers.
Junior pitcher Kayla Briggs put on a gutsy performance battling pain in her throwing elbow. She struck out six but also walked six and yielded six hits in a 7-2 loss to District 5 champion Fannet Metal.
While running the bases in the PIAA semifinal, Briggs was hit in the elbow by a line drive off a teammate's bat as she ran to second base. Briggs played on without complaining so that Alderson and many were unaware the ball had hit Briggs in the elbow until after the game.
"It was completely freaky how it happened," Alderson said. "It just happened so fast. Her elbow swelled and stiffened up, it is not an excuse but it really affected her breaking pitches. She pitched very well and I am really proud of her as a first-year pitcher."
Fortunately for Alderson, Briggs will be back next season but she does bid adieu to one of the most successful senior classes in program history. Catcher Colby Miller and shortstop Rachel Tucker were four-year starters for the Buccaneers. Senior outfielder Kelli Dufresne was a three-year starter and senior first baseman Ashley Hall was a two-year starter.
"[The seniors] graduated last Friday," Alderson said. "We were hoping for a few more days together but it didn't work out. It is disappointing for them but they have a lot of medals that nobody can take away."hsbaseball
First Published June 14, 2012 12:00 AM