North Xtra: Quaker Valley proving to be contender for a section title

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As the head baseball coach of Northgate from 2001-12, Todd Goble was very familiar with section foe Quaker Valley.

He thought the Quakers were always very talented, so when he took over the Quaker Valley head coaching job in January, he wanted the team's focus to be on the little things.

"We just want to play hard, take the extra base and play heads-up baseball," Goble said. "We need to take care of the little things and put as much pressure on our opponents as we can."

The Quakers have hit the ground running. They have a sparkling 8-0 record and are 6-0 and in first place in Class AA Section 1. The Quakers haven't qualified for the playoffs since 2006. Last season, Quaker Valley had its first winning season since 2006 when they finished 10-6.

But Goble said the team's demeanor hasn't changed much, coming to practice with a determined focus.

Goble credits a lot of that to senior leadership. The Quakers have seven seniors, and many of them have been on very successful teams in other sports at Quaker Valley.

Outfielders Clayton Bouchard and Ryan Dickson were a huge part of the Quakers' hockey team that over the past two years won one state title, two Penguins Cups and had a 46-game unbeaten streak.

Third baseman/pitcher Jake Pilewicz was a star defenseman on the 2011 state title hockey team before deciding to play for his amateur travel team this past season.

Another senior, center fielder Nelson Westwood, was a major part of the Quakers' soccer team that won the WPIAL championship and the basketball team that advanced to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals.

"Anytime you have success, you learn to enjoy it and don't want to settle for anything less," Goble said.

The Quakers have found different ways to win this season. They shut down Deer Lakes, 4-0, in the season opener; broke out the lumber in a 19-5 victory against Brentwood; and lost a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning against Seton-LaSalle only to rally back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to win, 6-5.

But maybe the best illustration of the team the Quakers have this season was the game against Southmoreland April 7 at PNC Park.

The Quakers used seven pitchers in the seven-inning game, winning, 5-3.

Goble said the Quakers are truly a team. While Pilewicz and Matt Delie are the team's top two pitchers, Quaker Valley can throw a lot of different arms at teams.

At the plate, Bouchard, shortstop T.J. Kuny, Westwood and Pilewicz lead the way, but Goble said he is confident in all nine guys he puts in the lineup. He said he believes Westwood, who was 3 for 3 with a home run in the Southmoreland game, is leading the team in hitting, but he isn't positive because he said he doesn't compile the team's stats.

"We don't pay attention to that stuff," Goble said. "It's whoever puts the ball in play and hits it hard consistently and we feel like everyone in our lineup is doing that."

Which has the Quakers on the right path to the WPIAL playoffs, even if that's not the team's current focus.

"The bottom line is we're playing it one game at a time," Goble said. "Every time we play, we want to win. If we play every game to the best of our ability, then that's all we can control."

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