New Castle News

Sports

July 9, 2014

High School Softball: Neshannock’s DeMatteo, Shaffer earn all-state honors

NEW CASTLE — Marissa DeMatteo and Madison Shaffer are among the best softball players in the state.

That became official when the Neshannock High juniors were named to the Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association’s Class A all-state team. DeMatteo earned first-team honors at second base, while Shaffer received second-team laurels as a pitcher.

“It’s an honor to be on the all-state team,” Neshannock coach Tracy Kimmel said. “They’re both worthy of awards like this. They’re both very good players and they both work very hard. They deserve all the accolades they get.”

DeMatteo paced Lawrence County in runs scored with 35, was second in hits (35) and third in home runs (three).

“She can do everything with the bat,” Kimmel said. “She did well for us all year. She’s just an outstanding player all the way around. She’s a great hitter and a great defender. She’s just the total package.”

DeMatteo also was among the county leaders in batting average (.525), RBIs (21), doubles (six) and stolen bases (nine).

“I think as time goes on she’ll be more of a power hitter and will get away from the slapping and bunting,” Kimmel said. “You want to get her on base anyway you can. She got a lot stronger this year and I think it’ll really start to translate onto the field better next year.”

During the regular season, Shaffer led the county in strikeouts (105) and ERA (1.35) in the pitching circle, while finishing second in victories with a 15-2 record. The Lady Lancers ace pitched just 80 innings on the season.

She posted a .333 batting average (15 for 45) with 14 RBIs and 18 runs scored. She also legged out a triple and belted a game-turning grand slam in the first Burgettstown playoff game.

“To me and she’d probably tell you differently, but she had pretty good command of her changeup,” Kimmel said. “It was a big pitch for her. She could throw it for strikes a lot more than she did last year. She was able to get a lot of strikeouts with it. She has a good fastball and she likes to throw the curveball. Then when she’d come in with the change, it was hard for hitters to make adjustments. That’s what pitching is all about — changing speeds.”

In six playoff games this year, Shaffer allowed just 21 hits and struck out 42 in 39 innings as they rolled to their second-consecutive WPIAL Class A championship and third-straight appearance in the PIAA semifinals. She tossed back-to-back shutouts against Vincentian Academy and Burgettstown to open the WPIAL playoffs and allowed 12 runs total in her six playoff appearances.

“She pitched well for us,” Kimmel said. “She had some back issues this year, so that set her back a little bit. Overall, she’s one of the better pitchers around. She showed it in the WPIAL. Most teams couldn’t do much with her. The playoff game we lost, there was only one hard hit ball. We came up short that game, but it wasn’t her fault.”

Both DeMatteo and Shaffer already have verbally committed to continue their academic and softball careers at Division I universities/

DeMatteo plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh, while Shaffer has committed to Penn State University.

“They’ve been under a lot of pressure since they committed,” Kimmel said. “I think right after you make that commitment, you feel like you have to live up to that every at bat or every pitch. I think you’ll see a big difference in them next year. By that time, they’ll have already signed and the pressure will be off.

“But they do play all kinds of travel ball and they’re playing in front of college coaches all the time. Travel ball is different than high school ball, because the competition isn’t as good in Single-A as what they’re seeing with their travel ball teams.”

South Side Beaver sophomore Connor McGaffic was named the Class A Player of the Year.

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