Fox Chapel Area High School was well represented at the WPIAL and PIAA championships this spring. Seven out of the school’s eight spring sports teams – baseball, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, softball, boys’ tennis and girls’ track and field and boys’ track – all advanced to the WPIAL playoffs. For the first time in school history, boys’ tennis won the WPIAL team championship. They also were the runner-up at the PIAA championship finals. A number of individual players, including several freshmen, were named as All-Americans, others advanced to the PIAA championships in their respective sports and a few school records were broken too. All in all, it was a great spring season. With so many teams sporting young, talented squads, the positive momentum should extend into next year and beyond.
Baseball 8-2 section, 14-6 overall
Coach Michael Frank had high goals going into the season. Overall, the experienced team played up to those expectations. A host of seniors provided exemplary leadership through their work ethic and dedication. Pitching and defense were the team’s strong suits this season – the pitching line-up had a team ERA of 1.86 and threw eight shutouts. One of those victories was an exciting no-hitter pitched by senior and tri-sport athlete Michael Marsico, who also accounted for two out of the team’s three runs that day. Their efforts qualified them for the WPIAL playoffs.
The close-knit team had an abundance of seniors named to the WPIAL Class AAAA Section 3 all-section first team – infielder Josh Anderson, catcher Zachary Burkhart, infielder Patrick Monteverde and outfielder Jacob Pilarski. Junior outfielder Josh Kieffer and junior infielder Nick McRandal were named to the all-section second team, as was senior pitcher Michael Marsico. Zachary, Patrick Monteverde and Jacob Pilarski will continue on as teammates next year at Virginia Wesleyan College. Josh Anderson and Brian Koglin also will play at the collegiate level next year.
Boys’ Lacrosse 4-2 section, 10-4 overall
The group’s strength this year was definitely offense and it showed. Three players recorded more than 40 goals, making the Foxes one of the top scoring teams in the WPIAL. The team’s face-off and winning percentages both improved this season, as did the goalie save percentage. Seniors played in almost every position, but some had never played lacrosse before, which made their accomplishment of producing the program’s best overall season record even more remarkable. Coach Chris McCrady was very happy with their finish of 10-4, a win away from the section championship and felt the team was one of the best in the league. Four senior players were named all-section – Matt Hardiman, Levi McCrady, Tucker Root and Ryan Troutman. Tucker and Levi also were voted to the all-WPIAL team and named as high school All-Americans, while Matt earned academic All-American honors.
After four seasons with the team, three of them as head coach, Chris McCrady has decided to step down. His son Levi will play for Brown University next year and Coach McCrady wants the ability to enjoy watching him play in college. A new coach has yet to be named, but with returning experience in goal, on defense and a deep bench to replenish the offensive unit, the team should be in good shape next season.
Girls’ Lacrosse 9-3 section, 10-5 overall
This season, the experienced and competitive girls’ lacrosse team demonstrated a great combination of leadership and young talent. Coach Jen McCrady wanted to get back to the WPIAL playoffs, and they did, thanks to fantastic performances from returning players and superior defensive play. In addition, some of the newer players had strong contributions, which was a nice surprise for the coaches. While Coach McCrady would have liked to go deeper into the WPIAL playoffs – they reached the quarterfinals – by the end of the season the coaches were happy with how far the team had come. Voted all- section first team were senior Nikki Stumpf, junior Meg McCrady and sophomore Kate Goodwin. Meg also was named a high school All-American this year and voted to the all-WPIAL first team.
The team will lose seven seniors, six of whom were starters, but four out of their top five scorers will return – Meg, Kate and juniors Mikayla D’Cunha and Ali Wessel. Their biggest loss, however, might be Coach McCrady’s decision to make this year her final one. During the eight years she led the squad, the high school lacrosse program grew and flourished, as has the sport in general. Now, with many incoming players bringing experience from years spent with youth club and travel teams, Coach McCrady says the group is at the point where they can start meaningful play from the first day of practice. Katie Lundberg will become the new head coach after serving as an assistant for five years, while Abby Dorrance will continue on as assistant.
Softball 9-3 section, 12-8 overall
Lisa Hess’ objective going into the season as the Lady Foxes’ new head coach was to lead by example and instill a culture of hard work and preparedness. By the end of the year, she was able to check those things off her to do list, thanks to a talented group of dedicated players who were highly coachable and open to new ideas. Highlights from the season were winning a tough section game against Gateway and their last game against Plum, which wound up landing them second place in the section and a spot in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. Many hard lessons were learned throughout the season about intensity and focus, but by the end of the season, the girls hit their stride and demonstrated their talents.
The team will lose two seniors, second baseman Caitlin McEvoy and catcher Sam Olbrich. Sam was voted all-section first team and accepted an offer to play next year at Wheeling Jesuit University. Receiving postseason honors on the all-section second team were junior outfielder Gretchen Angerman, junior pitcher Calle Zmenkowski, junior outfielder Alyssa Guzzie, sophomore third baseman Tawnya Holben and sophomore infielder Emma Humes. Seven out of the team’s nine regular starters will return, as well as several key players who will compete for starting positions. Next year, the team will move up to section 6A and face some strong competition, including perennial powerhouse Hempfield Area High School.
Tennis 13-0 section, 20-1 overall
The Foxes’ boys’ tennis team had a phenomenal season under the leadership of first-year coach Alex Slezak. The team went undefeated up until the final PIAA championship match and also became the school’s first-ever WPIAL boys’ tennis team champions. The group ended the season as the PIAA runner-up. Additionally, senior Sidd Rajupet won a bronze medal in the PIAA singles’ tournament and freshman Robby Shymansky brought home the silver medal. The two made PIAA history by becoming the first teammates from the same school to stand together on the singles’ winners’ podium. In addition to Sidd and Robby’s outstanding performances, other team members had great seasons as well, including senior Tomi Fennell, junior Neil Bencherif, sophomore Kurran Singh and freshmen Jay Kashap and Jared Nord. The remainder of the varsity squad – senior Lucas Fennell, junior Jared Cohen and sophomore Karsten Lagerquist – also contributed in immeasurable ways on the practice court and were instrumental in getting wins in some of team’s toughest matches.
Track and Field
A number of boys qualified for the WPIAL championships this season, including the
4 x 400 relay team of senior Mike Bove, juniors David Breault and Alec Eckman and sophomore Ben Kronman. Mike and Alec also qualified in the 800-meter race and junior Adam Cook advanced in the 3200-meter event. For the second consecutive year, Mike, a Duquesne recruit, advanced to the PIAA championship in the 800-meter race.
Their record may not be indicative of the talent on the girls’ team this year, as a number of girls qualified for the WPIAL championship. Qualifiers included the 4 x 800 relay team of seniors Erin Curry and Maura Whelan, sophomore Margaret Edgecombe and freshman Kristen Friday. The 4 x 100 relay team also advanced to WPIALs. Members were seniors Arla Sisson and Olivia Van Dyke and juniors Katherine Kauma and Maddie Lucey. Other qualifiers for the WPIAL track and field championships were Arla in the long jump, Maddie in the 100-meter race, sophomore Caelan Miller in the 1600-meter event and freshman Annika Urban in the 3200-meter race. Caelan qualified for the PIAA meet for the second consecutive year and was joined this time by teammate Annika. A big highlight for the girls this season was when the 4 x 100 relay team broke a school record with a time of 50:50. The previous record of 51:32 was set in 2009.
Volleyball 3-9 section, 4-10 overall
After the loss of so many senior starters from last year’s WPIAL championship and PIAA runner-up team, Coach Phil O’Keeffe knew he had to start rebuilding this season. There were lots of growing pains, but that was to be expected. Senior Jack Reese, a University of Hawaii recruit, was voted to the all-section first team and Jarrett Zaleski, a junior, made all-section second team. The group will lose four seniors: Chad Capuzzi, Matt Friday, Conor Gaffney and Jack, but with six experienced players returning and some promising rising freshmen joining the team, they should be in good shape to keep building the program.