Winning close district playoff baseball games comes down to taking advantage of the opportunities presented.
North Schuylkill didn’t have as many opportunities as Salisbury last week in their District 11 Class 2A semifinal. But the Spartans made the most of the few they did get in beating the Falcons 2-1 in extra innings.
“We had a couple opportunities,” said Salisbury head coach Mike Pochron. “I guess we give their pitchers credit that they got out of the jams. They walked the first two batters of the game and they got out of that jam.
At one point early in spring, the postseason seemed nearly out of reach for the Salisbury baseball team. But after a late-season hot streak got them into the district tournament, the Falcons opened with an outstanding performance in the first round, beating Minersville 3-2 thanks to a stellar performance from pitcher Chad Cooperman and his supporting cast.
The senior struck out 11 Battling Miners and scattered eight hits while walking just two, although his best play in the game might have been a simple base running tactic that helped his team go ahead 2-0 early in the game.
No one could have expected Salisbury’s softball season to end the way it did.
The Falcons had recently finished their best season in recent memory, going 14-6 overall and 11-6 in the Colonial League to earn their first league playoff berth since 2004.
Despite heading into their first District 11 playoff game as the No. 9 seed, Salisbury stepped onto the field against No. 8 seed Pine Grove last week feeling like the better team and looking like it for most of the Class 2A quarterfinal game on the Cardinals’ home field.
Mahlon Reihman won two gold medals in individual events and set one district and pool record at last weekend’s District 11 Class 2A Championship meet at Parkland High School.
But that wasn’t the best thing he did at this year’s meet.
Heading into the final leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last event of the two-day meet, Reihman dove into the pool three seconds behind the Mahanoy Area team that was leading.
Through his first five dives at Saturday’s District 11 Class AA Championships, Salisbury’s Tyler Keller pulled out to a 22-point lead over the second-place diver.
After nine dives, Keller had increased his lead to a nearly insurmountable 34 points with three dives remaining.
He finished with three of his hardest dives and put together a first-place total of 417.55, well ahead of second place finisher and Falcon teammate Daniel Bujcs, who finished with 392.85 points.
Heading into girls basketball season last fall, Salisbury coach Joe Mladosich was happy to have one of the Colonial League’s best players returning to his team. However, he also knew it would be difficult to replace the four graduates that started around Lindsay Bauer the previous year, including 1,000-point scorer Meagan Eripret who was off to Lehigh University.
Bauer led an inexperienced Salisbury team to league and district playoff appearances this season before the Falcons’ season came to an end last Friday in a District 11 Class 2A quarterfinal game against Marian Catholic.
Salisbury girls basketball head coach Joe Mladosich refused to make any excuses for his team’s performance. But it’s hard to think that 10 days away from formal practices didn’t at least play a part in the Falcons’ 39-33 loss to Oley in the first round of the Falcon Holiday Tournament.
“We haven’t had practice for 10 days but some of the things like effort and boxing out, we should still be doing that,” said Mladosich. “That’s what hurt was our effort. It’s probably our worst performance of the year. Nothing against Oley Valley at all, but our performance lackluster at best.”
Each postseason keeps getting better for the Salisbury doubles tennis tandem of Leandra Roelker and Claudia Crouthamel.
As freshmen in 2013, the duo won one match in their first appearance at the District 11 Class AA doubles tournament.
Last season, as sophomores, the won two matches to reach the tournament’s second day and the quarterfinal round.
This year, they kept up the progress by reaching the semifinals last Friday at Saucon Valley High School.
Falling behind by 14 points early in Saturday’s game at Pen Argyl wasn’t part of Salisbury’s plan.
But plans change quickly in high school football games. The Falcons remained calm despite the adversity and quickly turned the game around. By halftime they pulled into a tie. When the final horn sounded, Salisbury celebrated a 35-14 win and a 3-2 record at the halfway point of the season.
When Salisbury took the field last week to face Northwestern for the two teams’ second boys soccer meeting in nine days, the 4-0 loss from September 22 was still fresh on the Falcons’ minds.
It was by far the most goals they allowed and the largest deficit of any Colonial League games they played this season.
Salisbury got its revenge last Thursday when the teams met for a nonleague match and, because of weather conditions, the game was back at Salisbury.