2023 WPIAL Class 4A softball preseason breakdown

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 | 8:01 AM

Beaver’s softball team has won two straight WPIAL Class 4A championships in addition to capturing the 2021 PIAA title and finishing last season as state runners-up.

Things will look a bit different without dominating pitcher Payton List in the circle for the Bobcats. She is now at Virginia Tech after posting an 18-1 record and 0.36 ERA and striking out 271 batters in 134 2/3 innings last season.

The Bobcats, however, have added a slew of underclassmen with some veterans accustomed to winning.

Here is a rundown of the 2023 preseason top 5 teams, some of the players to watch and other diamond notes in WPIAL Class 4A softball.

Preseason Top 5

1. Elizabeth Forward (16-4 last season)

Elizabeth Forward won the 2019 WPIAL Class 4A title, was a semifinalist and PIAA qualifier in 2021 and was the WPIAL runner-up and PIAA qualifier last season. Junior Shelby Telegdy returns to lead the defending Section 2 champion Warriors after she went 13-4 with a 1.71 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 98 innings for the Class 4A runners-up. She also batted .521 with 25 RBIs, 21 runs and 17 extra-base hits, including seven homers, to earn all-section honors. Also among their seven returning starters are center fielder Lauren Vay and catcher Alivia Grimm, both all-section selections, as well as right fielder Carlee Soukup and third baseman Julia Johnson.

2. Beaver (21-1)

Beaver has won back-to-back WPIAL championships, and four returning starters are set to lead a young lineup. Catcher Sami Springman hit .459 and was named second-team all-state as a freshman last year. Senior Kayla Cornell was second-team all-state at third base. Infielder Taylor Young hit .365 and was an all-section pick. Grace Thompson is moving from first base into the pitching circle, along with Young.

3. Montour (14-6)

Montour fell just short of a PIAA playoff berth last season after falling to Beaver in the semifinals and Burrell in the third-place consolation game. The Spartans also finished second in Section 3. Senior outfielder Mia Arndt was a first-team all-state selection last season. Senior all-section pitcher Kaitlyn Molitoris, an Alderson Broaddus recruit, also returns.

4. Belle Vernon (12-8)

Seven starters are back for Belle Vernon, which finished third in Section 2 last season and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals. Senior outfielder Maren Metikosh, a Central Connecticut State commit, was the state’s Class 4A Player of the Year last season after batting .557 with five homers and 32 RBIs. Pitcher Olivia Kolowitz, a St. Francis (Pa.) recruit, was 5-1 in section and had 17 strikeouts in a game.

5. Chartiers Valley (15-7)

The Colts reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA playoffs in Class 5A last season. First-team all-section infielder Madison Crump returns, along with Robert Morris recruit Marta Gualazzi, Mackenzie Maga, Rylee Prosperi, Zoe Mangan and Callie Mangan. Crump also earned all-state honors at shortstop.

Players to watch

Mia Arndt, sr., OF, Montour

Kayla Cornell, sr., INF, Beaver

Madison Crump, sr., INF, Chartiers Valley

Maggie Cunningham, so., INF, Indiana

Abbie Deiseroth, sr., INF, Highlands

Sequioia Dunlap, sr., INF, Uniontown

Lindsay Edwards, sr., OF, Knoch

Alivia Grimm, so., C, Elizabeth Forward

Addison Hilligsberg, sr., OF, West Mifflin

Liliana Koller, jr., OF, North Catholic

Zoey Lindner, so., INF, Blackhawk

Addy Maguire, sr., INF, Hampton

Maren Metikosh, sr., OF, Belle Vernon

Kailyn Molitoris, sr., P, Montour

Mackenzie Reese, jr., INF, Hampton

Gionnah Ruffner, jr., C, Greensburg Salem

Brynne Smith, jr., OF, Knoch

Sami Springman, so., C, Beaver

Anita Szymoniak, sr., C, Ambridge

Shelby Telegdy, jr., P/3B, Elizabeth Forward

Lauren Vay, sr., OF, Elizabeth Forward

Diamond notes

• Class 4A will still have 20 teams as North Catholic moves up to join Section 3 with newcomers Chartiers Valley and Hampton, who dropped down from 5A. Albert Gallatin, Indiana and Woodland Hills also dropped down.

Greensburg Salem and West Mifflin switched sections, with the Golden Lions new in Section 2 and Titans in Section 1. Burrell, Freeport, Central Valley, Hopewell and Yough dropped to Class 3A.

• West Mifflin (12-10) has four starters back after finishing fourth in Section 2, including senior pitcher/first baseman Addison Hilligsberg (.324, 4 HR, 18 RBIs), who was all-section last season. Senior shortstop Aurora Rosso hit .388 with four homers and 24 RBIs.

• Infielders Addy Maguire and Mackenzie Reese were first-team all-section selections last year for Hampton (7-9), which dropped down in class after finishing fourth in Section 3-5A. They will miss graduated all-state catcher Bella Henzler.

Laurel Highlands (7-8) will be led by pitcher Julie Cooper, who hit .550 last season.

Blackhawk (5-9) has five returning starters, including all-section shortstop Zoey Lindner. Pitcher Peyton Kimberlin also returns.

• Maggie Cunningham and Haley Hamilton are returning all-section honorees from Indiana (3-12), which dropped down from Class 5A.

• Greensburg Salem (2-13) aims to contend for a playoff berth behind junior catcher Gionnah Ruffner, a Seton Hall commit who hit .511 with seven homers and 25 RBIs last season, and shortstop Mia Peticca, who was limited by injury in 2022.

• All-state catcher Anita Szymoniak, a Saint Vincent recruit, returns for Ambridge (1-12).

2023 alignment

Section 1: Highlands, Indiana, Knoch, McKeesport, West Mifflin, Woodland Hills

Section 2: Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Greensburg Salem, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Uniontown

Section 3: Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Chartiers Valley, Hampton, Montour, North Catholic

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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