Past baseball champions to square off in Tuesday’s 3 things to watch in high school sports

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Monday, May 14, 2018 | 10:33 PM


Tuesday is a busy day of postseason diamond action in the WPIAL with 22 first-round baseball and 15 opening-round softball playoff games.

One anticipated matchup in baseball is 2017 Class 5A champion Latrobe taking on 2016 Class AAA champion Chartiers Valley on the turf at West Mifflin.

Heading into the final 10 days of the regular season, there were no guarantees the defending champion Wildcats would even qualify for the postseason. But an 11-0 whitewash of Albert Gallatin on May 2 helped seal the deal for fourth place in Section 3 and a playoff spot for Latrobe.

Chartiers Valley flew under the radar in third place in Section 2 behind the top two seeds in the Class 5A playoffs, Moon and West Allegheny. The Colts are 9-7 overall, but four of those losses were to the Tigers and Indians in section, and three nonsection losses to 6A playoff teams Bethel Park, Hempfield and Peters Township.

Chartiers Valley ended the season with a 4-2 triumph over another 6A playoff-bound team in North Allegheny.

Listen to the game Tuesday only on the TribLive High School Sports Network .

Playoff droughts end

The Welcome Back sign should be hanging out for a handful of WPIAL baseball teams who are back in the playoffs Tuesday after missing the postseason several years.

It has been four years since both Trinity and Laurel qualified for the district playoffs. The Hillers face a steep challenge against 2017 Class 5A runner-up Mars. The Spartans square off against a Fort Cherry team that has been on the sidelines the last five years.

The year 2012 also was the last time Upper St. Clair made it to the postseason dance. The Panthers' tap shoes are primed and ready to go Primetime as they take on Butler in a 7 p.m. game at North Allegheny.

But the longest baseball drought to end this season was Leechburg. The Blue Devils last made the playoffs when they lost to Bentworth in a Class A first-round game 13-8 in May of 2011. Leechburg's first playoff game in seven years takes place at Fox Chapel against defending Class A champion Jeannette.

Softball Civil Wars

Day 2 of Round 1 will feature softball playoff openers in Class 6A, 5A and 3A around the WPIAL.

One interesting sidebar in the 6A first round are head-to-head battles between Section 1 made up of schools in the South Hills against Section 3 and the northern suburban schools.

• North Allegheny captured the Section 3 crown and will face a Bethel Park team that was one of three squads to tie for third place in Section 1. The Black Hawks needed an upset of section champion Baldwin on the final day of section play to qualify.

• Section 3 runner-up Seneca Valley faces Peters Township. Like Bethel Park, the Indians pulled off a surprise win over section runner-up Canon-McMillan on the last day of section play to make it into the postseason after missing out in 2017.

• The third team that tied for third in Section 1 is Mt. Lebanon. The Blue Devils technically finished in third place by virtue of head-to-head tiebreaker against Bethel Park and Peters Township. Mt. Lebanon takes on another third-place finisher in Pine-Richland.

Other North vs South softball playoff contests on Tuesday:

Class 4A New Castle vs. Elizabeth Forward

Class 3A Ellwood City vs. South Allegheny, Deer Lakes vs. Steel Valley and McGuffey against Burrell.

Don Rebel is a TribLive High School Sports Network broadcaster and staff writer. Reach him at drebel@tribweb.com.

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