Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Deer Lakes a Power Again with Championship Hopes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Deer Lakes a Power Again with Championship Hopes

Article excerpt

When Craig Taliani took over as coach at Deer Lakes in 2004, the Lancers won five games.

A little more than a decade later, they could become the first Class AA team to reach the WPIAL title game five years in a row.

Deer Lakes has transformed into a WPIAL power, and with seven starters back from a team that won a WPIAL championship, it's little surprise the Lancers are ranked No. 1 and appear to again be the class of Class AA. They boasted a 5-1 record entering Thursday.

"It's really just been a gradual advancement," Taliani said. "We've been fortunate to have some really talented players come through. The 'next one up' mentality has really been a part of our success here."

Don't let the words Deer Lakes fool you; the Lancers have an ocean of talent. Leading the way is a fantastic outfield consisting of seniors Maria Taliani (Craig Taliani's daughter), Rachel Tanilli and Maureen Hutchinson. Taliani and Tanilli were all-section picks last season, as was senior catcher Sarah Blinn.

Junior Shae Robson has done a fine job on the mound taking over for Post-Gazette All-Area honoree Tiffany Edwards. Robson, Taliani and Hutchinson are all batting over .400.

A two-time WPIAL champion (2012 and 2015), the Lancers would love to make it back-to-back titles while also winning their first PIAA crown. They lost in last year's final.

"It's something that we think is attainable, but at the same time we realize there are a lot of really good teams in Class AA," Craig Taliani said.

Greensburg Salem

In her 37th season, Greensburg Salem coach Jody Morgan has yet another team that has the talent to potentially earn a playoff berth. Morgan's group is just a little younger than normal.

On most days, Morgan pencils five freshmen into her starting lineup: pitcher Rena Caruso, second baseman Tiffany Bruzda, first baseman Sydney Tressler, and outfielders Nikki Mellinger and Megan Kallock. …

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