2022 WPIAL Class 6A softball championship preview: Seneca Valley vs. North Allegheny

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 | 4:03 PM

WPIAL Class 6A softball championship

4-Seneca Valley (12-6) vs. 7-North Allegheny (13-9)

2:15 p.m. Wednesday at Lilley Field, Cal (Pa.)

On the air: Trib HSSN (Video)

Road to the finals

Seneca Valley Sitting with a 6-6 overall record at the end of April, the Raiders hit the gas pedal in May. They won their last five games of the regular season, including victories over Hempfield and Mt. Lebanon, the top two seeds in the Class 6A playoff field, in nonsection games. In the WPIAL quarterfinals, they dethroned defending champion Bethel Park, 17-1 in five innings. In the semifinals, they beat the top-seeded Spartans, 7-2.

North Allegheny As the postseason started, there was no reason to think the Tigers were on the verge of a run. After all, they lost their last four games of the regular season. Those losses, which included matchups with top-seeded Hempfield and Class 5A finalist Penn-Trafford, ended up being more of a positive than a negative. In the first round, the No. 7 Tigers shut out No. 10 Peters Township, 8-0. In the quarterfinals, they outslugged second-seeded Mt. Lebanon, 12-6. In the semifinals, they dispatched rival Pine-Richland, the third seed, 5-1.

Secret to their success

Seneca Valley — The Raiders’ bats have heated up with the weather in a dramatic way. In their first 12 games this season, they averaged 6.3 runs per game. In their past five games, they’ve averaged 15.2. Senior first baseman Maddie Gross has been a terror in the playoffs. She’s 5 for 8 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in two games. Freshman pitcher Lexie Hames has also made a massive impact. In 11 postseason innings in the circle, she’s given up one earned run and struck out 23. She’s also 5 for 6 with a home run and five RBIs.

North Allegheny — The Tigers have run producers all throughout their lineup. Five players hit home runs in their first three playoff games – senior catcher Sydni Junker and senior first baseman Reagan Deitrick against Peters, senior shortstop Alaina Whipkey against Mt. Lebanon and sophomore pitcher Anna Melle against Pine-Richland. Melle was dominant in the first round and semifinals, not allowing an earned run in complete-game wins. When Mt. Lebanon managed four earned runs off her in the quarterfinals, freshman Sammy Plotsko stepped in and threw three innings without allowing an earned run, fanning five.

Championship factoids

Seneca Valley — Given Hempfield’s dominance in the sport’s largest classification for the past seven years or so, it’s hard for any Class 6A school to have recent championship experience. But Seneca Valley’s softball trophy case is far from empty. The Raiders won WPIAL championships in 1992 and 1999. They also took the Spartans to extra innings in the 2019 semifinals.

North Allegheny — The Tigers have won three WPIAL softball championships – in 2002, 2003 and 2006 – and in the past decade they’ve come close to adding to that total multiple times. In 2019 and 2015, they lost to Hempfield in the finals. In 2013, they were runners-up to Canon-McMillan. They finished third in 2017 and fourth in 2016.

Jonathan Bombulie is the TribLive assistant sports editor. A Greensburg native, he was a hockey reporter for two decades, covering the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for 17 seasons before joining the Trib in 2015 and covering the Penguins for four seasons, including Stanley Cup championships in 2016-17. He can be reached at jbombulie@triblive.com.

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