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Helsel, Claar cap off successful scholastic careers

June 23, 2012
By Philip Cmor (pcmor@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

For the past four years, Christian Helsel and Ronette Claar have presented a formidable obstacle for anyone trying to beat Altoona Area High School baseball or Claysburg-Kimmel softball, setting records and leading their respective teams to District 6 championships and lengthy runs in the PIAA playoffs.

Helsel and Claar have been just as big a hurdle for area athletes trying to make the Altoona Mirror all-star baseball or softball teams, taking a spot up on the first team every season since they began playing varsity as freshmen.

The duo left their marks on their respective sports and wrapped it up this year with one last first team selection.

An Ole Miss signee and ESPN preseason all-state pick, Helsel rapped out 95 hits in his career, scoring 82 runs and batting .419. As a pitcher, he was 15-5 with eight saves and a 2.89 earned run average, striking out 111 in 94 innings.

Claar, who'll be going to Mercyhurst Northeast junior college, produced a 61-11 four-year record with three saves and an ERA of 1.47. In 486 innings, she struck out 785 batters while giving up 216 hits and 112 walks. She also hit .517 with 20 home runs.

Both made the all-stars this year as pitchers. Helsel was 4-2 with five saves and a pristine 1.89 ERA, tossing complete game wins in both the 6-AAAA final and the Mountain Lions' interdistrict tournament opener.

Claar led Claysburg's run to 21 straight wins to open the year and an Inter-County Conference championship game victory over eventual PIAA Class A tournament winner Fannett-Metal by striking out 234 over 136 innings and posting an ERA of less than 1.00.

Both all-star teams were marked by outstanding pitching in general. On the baseball side, Penn Cambria's Jordan Fuller had a 1.48 ERA with 91 strikeouts and Bedford's Marcus Shippey fanned 73 in only 43 innings. In softball, Penn Cambria's Kelly Yusko threw a perfect game, a no-hitter, a one-hitter and five two-hitters, while Bellwood-Antis' Taylor Payne posted a 202-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio and Philipsburg-Osceola's Kate Burge was 19-5 with seven shutouts.

There was no shortage of great softball hitters, either. Central's Kate Blattenberger and Bedford's Kacy Blevins each batted better than .500 and tied Central's Ashley Smith for the area lead in home runs with seven.

Meanwhile, Claysburg's Kala Brumbaugh hit .547, Bellwood's Jacqueline Finn drove in 35 By Philip Cmor

pcmor@altoonamirror.com

For the past four years, Christian Helsel and Ronette Claar have presented a formidable obstacle for anyone trying to beat Altoona Area High School baseball or Claysburg-Kimmel softball, setting records and leading their respective teams to District 6 championships and lengthy runs in the PIAA playoffs.

Helsel and Claar have been just as big a hurdle for area athletes trying to make the Altoona Mirror all-star baseball or softball teams, taking a spot up on the first team every season since they began playing varsity as freshmen.

The duo left their marks on their respective sports and wrapped it up this year with one last first team selection.

An Ole Miss signee and ESPN preseason all-state pick, Helsel rapped out 95 hits in his career, scoring 82 runs and batting .419. As a pitcher, he was 15-5 with eight saves and a 2.89 earned run average, striking out 111 in 94 innings.

Claar, who'll be going to Mercyhurst Northeast junior college, produced a 61-11 four-year record with three saves and an ERA of 1.47. In 486 innings, she struck out 785 batters while giving up 216 hits and 112 walks. She also hit .517 with 20 home runs.

Both made the all-stars this year as pitchers. Helsel was 4-2 with five saves and a pristine 1.89 ERA, tossing complete game wins in both the 6-AAAA final and the Mountain Lions' interdistrict tournament opener.

Claar led Claysburg's run to 21 straight wins to open the year and an Inter-County Conference championship game victory over eventual PIAA Class A tournament winner Fannett-Metal by striking out 234 over 136 innings and posting an ERA of less than 1.00.

Both all-star teams were marked by outstanding pitching in general. On the baseball side, Penn Cambria's Jordan Fuller had a 1.48 ERA with 91 strikeouts and Bedford's Marcus Shippey fanned 73 in only 43 innings. In softball, Penn Cambria's Kelly Yusko threw a perfect game, a no-hitter, a one-hitter and five two-hitters, while Bellwood-Antis' Taylor Payne posted a 202-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio and Philipsburg-Osceola's Kate Burge was 19-5 with seven shutouts.

There was no shortage of great softball hitters, either. Central's Kate Blattenberger and Bedford's Kacy Blevins each batted better than .500 and tied Central's Ashley Smith for the area lead in home runs with seven. Meanwhile, Claysburg's Kala Brumbaugh hit .547, Bellwood's Jacqueline runs and Huntingdon's Casey Baird - a three-time first team all-star - set a school record for career hits.

The baseball team had a lot of star power. In addition to Helsel, Northern Bedford senior Jake Stern and Hollidaysburg junior Brett Hileman are heading to Division I colleges, and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic junior slugger/power pitcher Jextin Pugh is likely to do so, as well, next year, if he's not drafted. Shippey is going to Shippensburg, where he'll team with fellow first-team pick Mike Marcinko of Philipsburg-Osceola, who led the area with 45 runs.

 
 

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