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Southern Fulton has tough draw in state baseball opener

Winning the District 5 Class A championship was a moment of excitement for Southern Fulton's baseball team.

But it might actually have been a curse. With a few upsets in other district finals, the win puts SF on the same side of the bracket as several strong teams, including 6-2 Portage, 9-2 Oswayo Valley and 7-2 Greensburg Central Catholic.

It's Greensburg Central Catholic (15-4) that SF will face in the opening round of the PIAA Class A tournament, which begins Monday.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it - we have a hard bracket," Southern Fulton coach Dustin Fischer said. "There's just more competition in the west than there is in the east; there are better baseball teams. And yet, we thought Greensburg would win the district, we thought Oswayo Valley would win their district, but they didn't. So it's not like they are unbeatable teams."

Southern Fulton (18-4) does have the advantage of playing in familiar territory - the game will be in McConnellsburg at 4:30 p.m. But it will certainly have its hands full with the Centurions.

A senior-laden squad, Greensburg boasts a team batting average of .398, with Tommy Pellis batting a staggering .661. Harrison Boyle (.533), Jake Nesser (.429), Zack Skatell (.424) and Scott Riley (.400) are all tough batters.

"When you look at their stats, obviously they are good," Fischer said. "It's a private school with the best players from that area. If they weren't doing good, someone wasn't doing their job properly."

SF has an interesting strategy heading into Monday's game. Rather than throwing ace Trent Rider, the Indians will use some of their slower pitchers in order to throw the Centurions off balance.

"I don't think our offense is going to be an issue; I think keeping them off the bases will be the biggest key," Fischer said. "We're going to use contact pitching; we'll try to press it to get them to hit groundballs and flyballs. Theoretically, we have our entire pitching staff at our disposal."