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Just had to ask

August 10, 2009

A 3-3 tie.

But, no one cared.

And, a really good thing is no calls were made to any paramedics because some 40-something-year-old ripped apart his hamstring, or took a grounder to the noggin.

Kudos to all who participated in the fourth-annual Brian Pizzoferrato Memorial Baseball game Saturday at Muth Field.

The game pitted alumni from Mingo High School (guys who Pizzoferrato played with in Little League and Babe Ruth) against those from Catholic Central, where he graduated from in 1988.

All proceeds benefited his 10-year-old son, Ronnie.

When Pizzoferrato died four years ago, one week before his 35th birthday from clear cell sarcoma cancer, all that was needed were phone calls.

They came and have been for four years now.

Friends of Pizzoferrato donned cleats, shorts and specially made T-shirts (really nice ones at that) played seven innings with plenty of good plays, good pitches, a few hits here and there and more than enough laughs.

When the guys in blue scored a run in the top of the seventh inning and those in white went down in the bottom of the frame, it was a simple decision to end on that note.

There were guys who needed to hit it to the fence at Muth Field just to make it to first base and there were guys who looked like they could still play for their respective alma maters. And that didn't matter.

It's about helping friends and all that took was a phone call to start the chain reaction.

Just had to ask.

Congratulations to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference and the executive board for making some changes as it continues to grow.

The track and field championships have been overhauled, the baseball and softball tournament is back to the top four teams and other good things are happening.

The work put in to addressing the problems with the track and field championships have taken some time and, upon first glance, that work should pay off.

Bellaire and Shadyside will still be used for two days, but only for preliminary stuff.

After two days at each facility - Monday and Wednesday at Shadyside and Tuesday and Thursday at Bellaire - everyone will head to Meadowbrook on May 8 for the finals, where there will be 16 athletes in each event - four from each classification.

Every athlete will score and the top eight in each event will medal.

There will still be winners and runners-up in each classification, but there will also be an overall winner.

The field events will take place at 9 a.m. on that Saturday with the running events beginning at noon.

That is a great thing because athletes will not have to share time with a field event and running event and neither will a coach.

A job well done in helping advance track and field to seek better competition for all competitors.

A high-five for going back to four teams in the baseball and softball playoffs.

The eight-team format just didn't work. There were too many logistical problems working around weather and this year on the softball side of things, it was close to as big of a mess as it could get.

Three proms and a sectional tournament game in West Virginia played a part in what was played and when.

Teams were traveling roundtrips that lasted longer than the games. I understand that may happen with the top four teams, but it will be rare.

The baseball semifinals are slated for April 24 with the cutoff date three days earlier.

The softball semifinals are booked for April 27-28. The finals for both sports will be held on May 1.

Just me, but I would like to see all the softball semifinal games played on the previous Saturday like the baseball games. Then, if needed, use the following week as rain dates.

All the baseball finals will be at Vaccaro Field and softball contests at the I-470 fields.

No whining about finishing in fifth place.

Win more games.

Also, it is good to see a softball team can no longer gain the needed points on the last day of qualifying by playing a tripleheader and winning all three games.

The basketball playoff has also been tweaked a little bit.

I like that the move has been made is the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds lose the semifinal game, they will then hit the road for the next game.

That would mean of either or both of the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds lose, the next game will be played at the No. 3 or No. 4 seeds home court.

That's a good thing.

Also, the basketball committee will reimburse schools losing in the semifinals and subsequently not playing a home game with a stipend based on the gross receipts of the championship game. That amount will be determined on a year-to-year basis.

Over the past two years, those teams that did not have a home game were paid a $250 stipend.

An all-day ticket will be sold again at the door during the first two games. It wasn't a big seller in February, but will be tried again this year.

The volleyball tournament is being moved from Union Local to Steubenville High School. The format is the same as Big Red houses two gyms - the Crimson Center and the Joseph Stern Gymnasium.

It will be held on Oct. 17.

There is no change planned in the all-star football game.

No North-South. No East-West.

No nothing.

It will stay the same.

Four soccer programs enter the fold, giving the conference 25 schools.

New are the Caldwell and Shenandoah boys programs and new to the league are Parkersburg South ( boys and girls) and Trinity Christian from Morgantown (boys).

There are eight Division I soccer programs: Brooke, Indian Creek, Beaver Local, Wheeling Park, Parkersburg South, John Marshall, Zanesville and Cambridge.

There are seven Division II programs: Steubenville, Weir, Edison, Oak Glen, East Liverpool, St. Clairsville, and Magnolia.

There are 10 Division III programs: Catholic Central, Weirton Madonna, Wheeling Central, Linsly, Monroe Central, Tyler Consolidated, Shenandoah, Caldwell, Trinity Christian, and Zanesville Rosecrans.

Past president Dianna Vargo announced an OVAC Varsity Board program.

The program is to "empower student-athletes to promote leadership, character and knowledge."

Two student-athletes from each member school have already been chosen based on certain criteria. Membership is divided into four regions - north, central, west and south - and a director (principal or assistant principal) will assist the students.

The north director is Big Red principal Shawn Crosier.

Each region will select a student president, vice president, secretary, and a treasurer.

Student-athletes not displaying leadership characteristics will be removed from the board. They are required to represent their schools and the conference with pride and dignity.

Bravo here.

Job well done by Vargo, Crosier and the others for stepping up to the plate.

This is a great thing to raise the expectations and accountability of our youth.

Changing classes.

Three schools dropped classifications. Weir and Edison went from Class AAAA to Class AAA and Barnesville from Class AAA to Class AA.

The conference's total enrollment is 17,887.

Wheeling Park leads the pack with 1,255 students with Parkersburg South one student behind the Patriots.

Paden City is the smallest school with 72 students.

Class A: Madonna (129) and Toronto (176).

Class AA: Catholic Central (209).

Class AAA: Harrison Central (457), Oak Glen (461), Weir High (510) and Edison (530).

Class AAAA: Steubenville (560), Indian Creek (577) and Brooke (814).

The enrollments count freshmen through juniors.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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