A-K Valley high school look-ahead: Week of April 16, 2018
By: Doug Gulasy
Sunday, April 15, 2018 | 4:57 PM
• Deer Lakes and Knoch played twice last season, but the Section 1-4A rivals' first meeting went 14 innings. The Lancers will host the defending section champion Knights for the first time in 2018. Both teams feature strong pitching staffs and are coming off playoff campaigns.
• Burrell and Shady Side Academy are among the contenders for the Section 1-3A baseball title along with Steel Valley and Valley, and the Bucs will host the Indians at Huston Middle School. Senior Ben Kosbie leads the way for Shady Side, and Luke Virag anchors the pitching staff for Burrell.
• Highlands hosts Freeport in a nonsection softball game between a pair of 2017 playoff teams. The Yellowjackets are hoping to make a run at the Section 1-4A championship, and the Golden Rams are looking to make noise in Class 4A.
• Kiski Area visits Plum for a Section 1-5A softball game. The teams tied for third place in the section last season, qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs, and both are looking to make a bigger run this season with a host of returning starters.
• Leechburg and Riverview softball meet again, this time with the Blue Devils hosting. Senior Morgan Pierce, a four-year starter, is back in the circle for Leechburg. Riverview made a playoff appearance with a young roster last season and is looking for more in 2018. Beating the rival Blue Devils on their home field would make a statement.
• Deer Lakes and Seton LaSalle are among the top contenders for the WPIAL Class AA volleyball championship, and the No. 3 Lancers, last season's runner-up, will host the No. 4 Rebels in a nonsection match.
• Rivals Burrell and Valley will meet on the baseball diamond for the first time this season with local bragging rights and placement in the Section 1-3A standings at stake. Both teams made the playoffs last season. The Bucs swept the season series in 2017, with one of the victories coming via walk-off walk.
• Freeport visits Knoch for a game between a pair of teams with Section 1-4A title hopes. The Yellowjackets dealt Knoch one of its two section losses last season and look to knock off the defending section champions again.
• Springdale hosts St. Joseph in a Section 1-A baseball game of teams with new coaches in charge. The Dynamos swept the Spartans last season on their way to earning the section's final playoff spot. St. Joseph can go a long way in its own playoff hopes with a win.
• The last time Deer Lakes visited South Allegheny for a softball game, the Lancers needed a late rally to post a victory. The Section 1-4A rivals will see what will happen this time around as the Gladiators host. Deer Lakes swept South Allegheny last season on its way to earning the section title, and South Allegheny tied Freeport for second.
• Runs were plentiful in the first meeting this season between Leechburg and Bishop Canevin's softball teams, and they'll square off again with the Crusaders as host. Morgan Pierce hit for the cycle, and McKenna Pierce went 4 for 4 in Leechburg's 12-10 victory earlier this season.
• A pair of rematches will take place in Section 1-5A softball as Penn-Trafford hosts Plum and Kiski Area hosts Franklin Regional. All four teams made the playoffs last season. P-T earned an 8-2 victory over Plum in the teams' section opener, and Franklin Regional rallied for a 7-4 win over Kiski Area.
• Deer Lakes baseball visits Yough for a Section 1-4A rematch. The host Cougars blanked the Lancers, 2-0, earlier this season as Jarett Bach struck out 13 in 5 2⁄3 innings.
• Valley visits Kiski Area for a nonsection baseball game. The Vikings, coming off a playoff season, got off to a strong start this season. The Cavaliers are hoping to make it back to the postseason after a one-year absence.
• Rivals Riverview and Springdale will meet in a nonsection softball game, with the Dynamos hosting. The visiting Raiders qualified for the postseason last year, a level Springdale hopes to reach in 2018.
• Another of the area's top track and field meets will take place at the Butler Invitational. The meet traditionally draws some of the top teams and athletes from around the WPIAL as they begin to ramp up for the WPIAL championships next month.
The Plum volleyball invitational is on tap, with the host Mustangs and other Alle-Kiski Valley teams Deer Lakes and Fox Chapel scheduled to compete.
• Highlands will make a pilgrimage to the friendly confines of PNC Park for a nonsection baseball game against Bethel Park.