The Ellwood City girl’s softball team is one game away from a WPIAL title, but if they’re nervous, they aren’t showing it. At a practice on Friday, the girls displayed their usual mix of enthusiasm and dedication combined with a devoted sense of fun.
For tomorrow’s game against South Park at California University, the Lady Wolverines are using the same approach they have all season: taking it one game at a time and trying to get better every day.
From the first game to the semi-finals, Ellwood remains undefeated with a record of 19-0. They defeated Neshannock 11-4 in the first round of the playoffs, Burgettstown 2-1 in the quarterfinals and Steel Valley 10-3 in the finals.
Ellwood is seeded #1 and defeated South Park in the playoffs last year, although their playoff run ended against Steel Valley. South Park was initially seeded #3 and defeated McGuffey, Freeport and Laurel.
“At this point, there’s two teams left and either could win,” head coach Gary Rozanski said. “We’re hoping it’s us.”
A large part of the team’s success comes from its emphasis on a well-rounded team. Pitcher Skyla Greco, a junior, has amassed 151 strikeouts and has consistently prevented other teams from getting on base. Maintaining the team’s emphasis on a game-by-game season, Greco said every game has been challenging.
Against Steel Valley, which was able to get seven hits against Greco, Ellwood’s coordinated defense prevented the team from accumulating more than three runs. The team collectively had 17 putouts.
Since March, Rozanski said the team’s offense has shown the most improvement. “We’ve been hitting it hard this season and getting runs on base,” he said, as demonstrated by 13 games with double digit scoring. The team’s five best hitters each have over 20 hits and several players have over 20 RBIs.
The team’s roster is grounded by three veteran seniors, Allie McKelvey, Kayla Murin and Mallory Swaggor.
“It’s a really great feeling to be playing in a WPIAL game,” McKelvey said. “This year, the team has gotten a lot closer, and we’ve all improved.”
Bolstering the team’s power are three freshmen- Ariana Garroway, Natalie Greco and Anna Ferrucci, who moved into varsity from an undefeated junior high line up, coached by Garroway’s father.
“We had to earn our spot in varsity,” Garroway said. “It’s a different atmosphere with more competition, and a post-season to work for.”
Garroway has 32 hits, 27 RBIs and five home runs this season.
However, the heart of the team is deeper than training, dedication and friendship. They are bound together by their boombox, which follows the team to each game and practice.
“It’s our baby,” Greco said. “We carry it everywhere.”
Ellwood plays South Park tomorrow at California University in California, Pa. at 11 a.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students.
More information on the softball team can be found on their Strikezone page.
All photos by Jonathan Cortez/EllwoodCity.org. Video submitted.