Just two Progressland baseball teams had .500 records and went to the playoffs this season — Clearfield and Philipsburg-Osceola. A third, West Branch, just missed the playoffs with a 9-11 record. Glendale and Moshannon Valley each had seven wins on the season, while Curwensville went 4-16.
Philipsburg-Osceola returned to the District 6 3A title game for the first time since 2012, where they faced a familar foe in Mount Union. The Trojans defeated the Mounties in 2012 3-2. This year, the game went scoreless until the bottom of the ninth, when the eventual state champs scored a run to beat P-O 1-0. The Mounties bounced back to win their first PIAA playoff game against Steel Valley 3-1, before bowing out to Franklin in the PIAA quarterfinals.
The Mounties leaned heavily on sophomore hurler Ryan Whitehead, who went 10-1 on the season. P-O also got a boost three games into the season when top hitter Keegan Soltis returned from a fractured foot to go on a massive tear.
Clearfield also made the District 9 playoffs again, finishing with a 12-10 record under head coach Sid Lansberry. The Bison avenged a playoff loss from last year by beating St. Marys 5-1 in the 4A semifinals. But Clearfield ran out of steam against Punxsutawney and fell in the title game 5-3.
The Bison had a good 1-2 punch on the mound in Eli Glass and Cade Walker with some solid starts from Hunter Dixon mixed in. Clearfield also had four players hit over .300 this season to help them score some big wins in the Mountain League.
West Branch also bounced back from a rough year to finish at 9-9 at the playoff deadline. The Warriors just missed out getting into the newly closed bracketed District 6 Class 2A playoffs. The Warriors finished the Moshannon Valley League slate at 3-1, losing to eventual MVL champs Mo Valley for the title.
In the Player of the Race, it came down to two horses who call Philipsburg home. Both Keegan Soltis and Ryan Whitehead had fantastic seasons and helped the Mounties get back to the PIAA playoffs.
In the end, it was like comparing apples to oranges, so they both will share the award this season. Soltis led the area in RBIs, hits, batting average, home runs despite missing three games. Whitehead led the area in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched and walks per game.
The Coach of the Year goes to Doug Sankey, who mixed a group of veterans with a group of green underclassmen to get his team to a 16-9 record. He took an inexperienced pitching staff and built them into a solid rotation. Carson Jones led the area in saves with four, while Bubba Slogosky was a great addition as the team’s No. 2 starter. With nine lettermen, Sankey was able to divide the playing time, while also giving several younger players the chance to shine.
Here is how the Progressland First Team breaks down:
Co-Player of the Year: Keegan Soltis, Philipsburg-Osceola — After being forced to miss the first three games due to a fractured foot, Soltis made the 22 games he played in count. He finished the season with a Progressland-leading 33 hits and 30 RBIs, as well as a .493 batting average. A three-time first team Progressland all-star, Soltis hit safely in 18 of 22 games with a multi-hit performance in nine of those games. An absolute whiz at the hot corner, Soltis had just three errors at one of the toughest positions on the diamond. He led the Mounties with seven doubles and six home runs. His best game of the year was a 2-for-3 performance at Bald Eagle Area, where he knocked in six runs, scored three times and blasted two homers. In this year’s District 6 playoffs, he had seven hits and six RBIs in three games. Soltis also had four appearances on the mound, where he earned a save against Clearfield. Soltis was named to the Mountain League all-star team this season as well. He has been Progressland’s first team third baseman in each of his three years on varsity.
Co-Player of the Year: Ryan Whitehead, Philipsburg-Osceola — There was no one more dominant on the mound this season than Whitehead. Any challenge that was served up to him as the Mounties’ No. 1 starter, he met. Just a sophomore, Whitehead finished the season with an astonishing 10-1 record and a 1.99 ERA. The lanky righty had 87 strikeouts in 14 appearances for the Mounties, where he tossed a total of 80 2/3 innings. He walked just 16 batters on the year, while allowing 23 earned runs. He had three 10-plus strikeout performances, including a season-high 13 against Forest Hills in the District 6 3A semifinals. Whitehead pitched four postseason games for P-O, going 3-0 with a no-decision against Mount Union after throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings before reaching his pitch limit. Whitehead beat Clearfield, Central and Huntingdon twice. He also earned a save against St. Joseph’s Academy. At the plate, Whitehead had 18 hits and 14 RBIs. He tallied two doubles and two triples, with six multi-hit performances this season. Whitehead was a first team Mountain League all-star this season. He was named as a Progressland Second Team pitcher as a freshman.
Coach of the Year: Doug Sankey, Philipsburg-Osceola — Sankey, whose Mounties were coming off an 11-10 season in 2018, took advantage of a wealth of talent back to take his team to the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Mounties finished the 2019 campaign at 16-9. P-O lost a heartbreaking 1-0 game to Mount Union in the District 6 3A title game, before rebounding to down Steel Valley 3-1 in first round of the PIAA Tournament. The Mounties lost in the quarterfinals of the state tournament to Franklin 6-3 to end their season. P-O finished the year with a Progressland-leading .279 team batting average. The Mounties have had four straight winning seasons under Sankey and have made the playoffs every year since 2014.
Pitcher: Bubba Slogosky, Philipsburg-Osceola — Slogosky was the Mounties’ No. 2 pitcher this year, and he flourished in that role. He saw action in nine games, and finished the season with a 4-3 record and a 2.78 ERA in the always-tough Mountain League. Slogosky had a total of 31 strikeouts this season in 37 2/3 innings pitched. He scored victories over Bellefonte, Bald Eagle Area, St. Joseph’s Academy and Linsly Academy. Slogosky was a great option for the Mounties when they had a quick turnaround. Over the final few games of the season, Slogosky lowered his ERA by almost a point. Although he was hit for most of the time, even when he played in the outfield, he had three hits and scored five runs. This is Slogosky’s first time on the Progressland all-star team.
Pitcher: Cade Walker, Clearfield — Walker put in 11 appearances this season for the Bison, winning four games and finishing the year with a 2.35 ERA. The junior lefty had 56 strikeouts and allowed just 15 earned runs in 44 2/3 innings pitched. Walker scored wins over Curwensville, Central, Bald Eagle Area and DuBois. He also earned a save against St. Marys in the District 9 4A semifinals. Walker and teammate Eli Glass proved to be a great 1-2 punch for head coach Sid Lansberry. Walker came in for the Bison against Punxsutawney in the District 9 title game and went four innings, allowing just one run, but the Bison fell 5-3. At the plate, he had 15 hits and knocked in 15 runs. He had three doubles and a triple for Clearfield. This is Walker’s first time on the Progressland All-Star team.
Catcher: Eddie Dale, West Branch — Dale had a breakout campaign for the Warriors this season, hitting .339 in 19 games played. He had a total of 21 hits and 12 RBIs. He hit safely in 12 games, including a three-hit performance at Curwensville, where he knocked in two runs and had a double. Dale was also solid behind the plate, committing just four errors. He proved to be a calming force for the Warriors’ younger pitchers. Dale was a first team Moshannon Valley League all-star this season. This is his first time on the Progressland all-stars.
First Base: Isaiah Dixon, Philipsburg-Osceola — Dixon, a late addition to the Mountie roster last season, played in all 24 games this season, many of those at first base or as a designated hitter. He finished the year with a .291 average and had 21 hits, tied for third-best on the team. He plated 15 runs and scored nine times. Dixon had five doubles and was second on the team in homers with 3. The senior hit safely in 17 of 21 games and had three multi-hit games. His biggest contribution came in the first round of the PIAA 3A playoffs, where he knocked in two runs on a double in the Mounties’ 3-1 victory over Steel Valley. Dixon was a Progressland second team designated hitter last season.
Middle Infield: Caullin Reed, Clearfield — Reed has been the Bison’s go-to guy at short for the last two and half years. The junior hit .311 with 23 hits and 19 RBIs this season. With a quick bat and an even quicker glove, Reed has been key for Clearfield. He committed just four errors at the spot this season. He also had six doubles and a homer to add to his resume. He hit safely in 12 of 22 games and had seven multi-hit performances. His best effort was a 5-for-6 game against Brookville where he had five RBIs, a double, a homer and scored four times. He also had six stolen bases. This is Reed’s first appearance on the Progressland all-star team.
Middle Infield: Hayden Williams, Clearfield — Williams started the season at second, but got moved to third base late in the season. He played well at both spots for the Bison. He committed no errors in his final eight games of the season. At the plate, he had a team-best .388 batting average. The junior pounded out 26 hits and 15 RBIs, while scoring 18 runs. Williams had two doubles and three stolen bases as well. He hit safely in his first nine games and in 18 of 22 total games. Williams had five multi-hit games, including a four-hit performance against Tyrone. He was named as a Mountain League first teamer this season. This is his first appearance on the Progressland all-star team.
Middle Infield: Alex Kitko, Moshannon Valley — Kitko played much of the season with an arm injury. He still hit a team-leading .387 with 19 hits and nine RBIs. He scored 12 runs and had four doubles. Kitko had just two errors all season, splitting time between shortstop and the mound. He hit safely in 12 of 17 games and had five multi-hit games. Against Williamsburg, he went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, a double and a stolen base. He pitched in eight games, throwing a total of 36 innings. He had 56 strikeouts and compiled a 3.50 ERA. Kitko was named as first team Inter-County Conference all-star and a first team Moshannon Valley League all-star. Kitko was a Progressland first team pitcher last season and as a sophomore.
Third Base: Austin Hammerle, Glendale — Hammerle was one of the top hitters in Progressland, with an impressive .400 batting average in 18 games. He hit safely in 10 of 18 games and had six multi-hit performances. Splitting time between the hot corner and the mound, Hammerle had just four errors on the season. The senior had five stolen bases, three doubles, a triple and a homer. His best performance came against Williamsburg where he was 4-for-5 wth six RBIs. He had two doubles and a homer in that game, and scored three times. Hammerle was tabbed as first team all-star in the Inter-County Conference and the Moshannon Valley League. This is his first appearance on the Progressland all-stars.
Outfield: Nathan Barr, Clearfield — Barr moved to center field this season from the behind the plate. He committed just one error all season at the position and proved to be a key force for the Bison. He was tied for the team-high in hits with 26. He finished the year with a .317 batting average in 22 games played. He knocked in 13 runs and scored 21 from his No. 2 spot in the batting order. Barr had five stolen bases and a double for the Bison. He hit safely in 18 games and had seven multi-hit games. Barr’s best game was against Bald Eagle Area, where he had three hits and three RBIs, as well as two stolen bases. Barr was a second team catcher last season.
Outfield: Eli Glass, Clearfield — Glass was the Bison’s No. 1 pitcher this season. He also saw a few games at first base, but he spent the bulk of his time in left field when he wasn’t on the mound. The senior hit .319 with 22 hits and 21 RBIs this season. He also scored nine times. Glass tallied four doubles and two homers. His best game came against Curwensville, when he knocked in four runs and had two hits, including a homer. He committed just two errors this season. On the mound, he was 4-3 with a 3.34 ERA. He had 56 strikeouts in 46 innings of work. Glass was a first team Mountain League all-star this season. He was also a Progressland first teamer at shortstop last season and a second team third baseman as a sophomore.
Outfield: Avery Francisco, Curwensville — To say Francisco has bounced around the diamond over his last four years is an understatement. Francisco has caught, pitched, played first, third and all three outfield positions at some point. This year, he found a place in the outfield for most of his 18 games. He hit a team-high .286 with 14 hits and 14 RBIs. He had three doubles, a triple and a homer. He hit safely in nine games and had four multi-hit performances. His best effort came against Brockway, where he had two hits, including a homer, and plated three runs. Francisco also pitched in five games for the Tide, ending with a 4.20 ERA. He was a first team Allegheny Mountain League all-star this season, as well as a first team Moshannon Valley League all-star. Francisco was a first team catcher last season and a first team utility player as a sophomore.
Outfield: Josh Cantolina, West Branch — Cantolina split time between the outfield and the mound this season, and also saw some time in the infield when needed. He hit .283 and played in all 19 games for the Warriors. Cantolina had 17 hits, six RBIs and scored nine runs. The senior hit safely in 13 games and had three multi-hit performances. Cantolina’s best game came against Curwensville where he had two hits and two RBIs. He also had a double and scored a run. On the mound, Cantolina had two wins in 12 appearances. He struck out 45 batters and threw two complete games. Cantolina was a first team Inter-County Conference all-star and a Moshannon Valley League first teamer. He was a Progressland second team middle infielder in 2017.
Designated Hitter: Jeremy Whitehead, Philipsburg-Osceola — Just a freshman, Whitehead, split time between the outfield and designated hitter for the Mounties. The younger brother of Ryan, he held his own as the lone freshman on the roster at the start of the season. He hit .291 with 23 hits and nine RBIs. He scored 12 runs and had six doubles. He also swatted two homers. Whitehead committed just one error this season and played in all 25 games this season. He hit safely in 16 games this season, including his first seven of the year. He had his best game against Huntingdon, where he hit his first varsity homer to lead the Mounties to victory.
Utility: Lance Westover, Glendale: Westover had a breakout season as a senior, hitting .370 despite playing all over the diamond. He played short, third and outfield as well as pitching and catching. He had 17 hits and 20 RBIs for the Vikings. The senior tallied four doubles, one triple and two homers. He hit safely in 10 of 17 games and had five multi-hit games. Westover’s best game came against Harmony, where he had three hits, three RBIs, scored four times and blasted a home run. He has committed just four errors all year despite moving positions. As a pitcher, he won three games and had 32 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings pitched. Westover was a Moshannon Valley League first team all-star and an Inter-County Conference honorable mention. This is his first appearance on the Progressland all-stars.
The second team consists of Clearfield’s Hunter Dixon and Eli Glass (pitchers), West Branch’s Ayden Gutierrez (pitcher), Clearfield’s Allan Myers (catcher), Philipsburg-Osceola’s Trey Shaw (catcher), West Branch’s Doug Kolesar (middle infield), Glendale’s Josh Potutschnig (middle infield), Moshannon Valley’s Jake Matchock (middle infield), Cuwensville’s Jake Mullins (middle infield), Glendale’s Nick Blake (outfield), Philipsburg-Osceola’s Carson Jones (outfield), Moshannon Valley’s Joe Bacher (outfield) and Moshannon Valley’s Michael Kitko (utility).
*Harmony did not report any of its games, so no players were eligible for the all-star team.