New Castle News

Sports

July 1, 2013

High School Softball All-Stars: Laurel’s Ritchie delivers as king of the hill

(Continued)

NEW CASTLE — CHIPPING IN

Dando, a junior pitcher/second baseman, also earned all-star status for Laurel.

Dando led the team in batting (.404), runs scored (16) and hits (21) offensively. He added seven RBIs as well.

This was the first year Dando strolled to the plate exclusively. Verdi said Dando possibly batted a couple of times as a freshman and about a handful last year.

“I can’t say enough of how proud I am of Josh,” Verdi said. “He only played in the outfield his freshman year.

“He was our leading hitter this year. Josh grew up so much this year. He really made great contact most of the year for us and he really set the table.”

Verdi knew he had a capable player stationed at second base as well.

“He was very solid at second base and he has good hands, too,” Verdi said. “He’s a great athlete with great range.

“We’re looking for Josh to be our leader next year.”

On the mound, Dando paced the team in innings pitched (49 1/3) and appearances (9). Dando was 4-5 with a 2.41 ERA with 34 strikeouts.

“Josh is just solid on the mound,” Verdi said. “He won’t strike a lot of guys out. He pitches to contact.

“He has a good changeup, curveball and fastball. Josh will outwork you and outthink you. He will get you to hit his pitch. Josh pitched in some tough games and he lost two tough games to (WPIAL champion) Beaver.”

Verdi will turn to Dando next year to lead the rotation.

“Josh will be our ace next year,” Verdi said. “He has big shoes to fill with Brandon graduating. But I know the Dando genes. He’ll be ready.”

(If you haven’t gotten your keepsake page filled with our popular trading cards, we have a limited number of the editions at The News. Just call (724) 654-6651 or stop into our business office. Ask for the Monday, July 1 newspaper.)

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