The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 11, 2013

Jon Gerardi's high school softball column: Tough competition will only be beneficial


But the Tigers knew it'd be a challenge going from Class A to AA and were more than aware of how tough the new competition would be.

Southern Columbia's tough 3-2 loss on Tuesday comes just shortly after HAC-II foe Central Columbia pummeled the Tigers, 23-0, holding Southern Columbia's potent offense to just one hit. The Blue Jays lost this season to the Defenders, 13-8.

"There's no doubt (Class AA has tougher competition). The double-A teams are better," Southern Columbia coach Al Cihocki said after Tuesday's loss to Warrior Run. "They got more kids to pick from; they've got better pitching and stuff like that. It's a challenge. We've played Class AA teams before and beat some real good teams years ago. ... We don't shy away from anybody. This is a good game."

Southern Columbia shouldn't hang its head about Tuesday's tough loss either, especially when taken into consideration that entering said game, Parker had thrown two one-hitters and a no-hitter.

In other words, in half of Parker's six games entering Tuesday's contest she allowed just two total hits. The Tigers walked away with two runs and six hits -- five of which were doubles.

Not shying away is precisely the type of attitude Southern Columbia has embraced, and for the Tigers and Defenders this year, these tough games down to the wire are what they like. It's that tough field of play in the league that allows teams to get better, and according to Watson, it was a large reason the Defenders got to the Class AA title game last year in State College.

"This (HAC) Division II is solid and every night you have to come play and it makes us better," Watson said after Tuesday's win. "When we made our run last year it was a tribute to the teams in Division II because there could've been a Loyalsock or a Central or a Mifflinburg right there doing what we did. That's good for us."

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