2021 WPIAL Class 2A softball preseason breakdown
Sunday, March 28, 2021 | 8:01 AM
After a year away from the diamond, softball players from across Western Pennsylvania are itching to get back in the field of play.
With the 2021 season moving forward as planned, WPIAL teams will get the chance to do just that. Several perennial powers will look to regain their place among the best in class, but others are hoping to challenge for postseason berths and championship titles.
Here is a look at the new district alignment, along with the softball teams and players to watch in WPIAL Class 2A in 2021:
Preseason Top 5
1. Laurel (21-3) — The two-time defending WPIAL Class 2A champions again have the look of a contender, though the Spartans will rely on a younger lineup. The sluggers who led Laurel to the 2019 district title graduated, but seniors Frankilyn Duddy and Kaylee Withrow return, along with juniors Jenna Fabian, Oriana Green and Bekah Valenti.
2. Chartiers-Houston (18-5) — Eight-time WPIAL champion Chartiers-Houston reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals after winning the Section 3 title in 2019. Back for the Bucs is junior pitcher/center fielder Bella Hess, who was an all-state and all-section selection as a freshman. Junior Nicolette Kloes also returns after a strong freshman campaign. Veteran coach Tricia Alderson is entering her 27th season (376-122), including 18 with the Bucs.
3. Ligonier Valley (17-3) — Five seniors and three juniors return for the Rams, who will look to contend in their move from District 6 to the WPIAL. Junior pitcher Maddie Griffin is back to lead Ligonier Valley. Sophomore Haley Boyd will take over at shortstop with Griffin moving into the circle.
4. Neshannock (16-4) — The Lancers shared the Section 4 title with Laurel in 2019 but have had lots of roster turnover since. They return junior center fielder Neleh Nogay, an all-section selection who just helped the Neshannock girls basketball team reach the PIAA title game. Outfielder Aaralyn Nogay, shortstop Hunter Newman and Gabby Perod also will be impact players.
5. Serra Catholic (10-5) — The Eagles return four starters from a team that finished second in Section 2-2A in 2019. The group features seniors Lexxie Fite, Chloe Honick, Bella Countryman and Nat Tom. Sophomores Caroline Malandra and Lida Wos also will be impact players.
Players to watch
Casey Barton, Jr., P, Seton LaSalle
Maddy Chlystek, Sr., INF, OLSH
Rylee Evans, Sr., 1B, Frazier
Maddie Griffin, Jr., P, Ligonier Valley
Bella Hess, Jr., P/CF, Chartiers-Houston
Aubry Krivak, Jr., P, Burgettstown
Neleh Nogay, Jr., OF, Neshannock
Jessica Rothka, Sr., INF, Bentworth
Lexi Shiderly, Sr., 1B, Mohawk
Delaney Walsh, Jr., OF, OLSH
Bailey Zidek, Jr., SS, Apollo-Ridge
• Laurel defeated Frazier, 9-3, to win the 2019 WPIAL Class 2A title. WPIAL semifinalists Freedom and Chartiers-Houston also qualified for the PIAA tournament.
• There are 28 teams across four section in Class 2A. The classification included 29 teams in the last two-year PIAA alignment cycle. Shady Side Academy and McGuffey moved up to Class 3A, and South Side, Riverview and Northgate dropped down to Class A. Vincentian Academy closed. Steel Valley dropped down from 3A. Jeannette and California more moved up from Class A. Ligonier Valley joined from District 6, and Washington is playing a WPIAL schedule after competing as an independent.
• Senior all-section first baseman Rylee Evans returns to lead the way for Frazier, the 2019 PIAA champion and WPIAL Class 2A runner-up which was hit hard by graduation the past two years. Delaney Warnick was 2 for 3 in a season-opening loss to Yough.
• WPIAL quarterfinalist Carmichaels was 14-6 in 2019 and has a solid senior core back with Emma Holaren, Madison Ellsworth, Nicole Ludrosky, Emma Hyatt and Mia Ranieri.
• Apollo-Ridge has four starters back from a team that went 9-5 in 2019. The group includes junior all-section shortstop Bailey Zidek, along with seniors Addy Baustert, Morgan Shupe and Amber Earnest.
Section 1: Aliquippa, Burgettstown, Carlynton, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, OLSH, Sto-Rox
Section 2: Apollo-Ridge, Brentwood, Jeannette, Ligonier Valley, Serra Catholic, Seton LaSalle, Steel Valley
Section 3: Bentworth, Beth-Center, California, Carmichaels, Charleroi, Frazier, Washington
Section 4: Freedom, Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, New Brighton, Riverside, Shenango
Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.
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