2023 WPIAL Class 6A softball championship preview: Hempfield vs. Seneca Valley

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023 | 2:26 PM


WPIAL Class 6A softball championship

2-Hempfield (17-3) vs. 1-Seneca Valley (17-1)

4:45 p.m. Wednesday at Lilley Field, Cal (Pa.)

On the air: Trib HSSN (video)

How they got here: Hempfield defeated No. 3 Norwin, 8-5, in the semifinals; Seneca Valley defeated No. 5 Pine-Richland, 7-2, in the semifinals.

WPIAL titles: Hempfield 7 (2019, ‘18, ‘17, ‘16, ‘15, ‘09, 1998); Seneca Valley 3 (2022, 1999, ‘92)

Coaches: Tina Madison, Hempfield; Marlesse Hames, Seneca Valley

Players to watch: Peyton Heisler, Hempfield; Lexie Hames, Seneca Valley

Extra bases: Hempfield returned to the finals with an 8-5 come-from-behind win over Norwin in the semis. Heisler hit her fifth home run of the season, a three-run blast to center, to cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-4. Freshman Ella Berkebile drove in the tying run, and a wild pitch allowed the go-ahead run to score in the fourth before the Spartans tacked on some insurance. Sophomore pitcher Riley Miller struck out 13 and held Norwin to one hit after the second inning. Hempfield is back in the finals for the first time since 2019 when it won its seventh WPIAL title, the last under longtime coach Bob Kalp, who won more than 400 games. Madison, a former Spartans ace pitcher as Tina Skelly, is in her second season as coach. … The teams split during the section season with Hempfield winning 3-2 and Seneca Valley posting a 3-0 shutout. The Raiders also beat Hempfield in last year’s quarterfinals, 7-2, but Miller was injured and did not play. Heisler is a Penn commit, and Maggie Howard is headed to Georgetown. … Lexie Hames is one of the best arms in the state. She struck out 18 Hempfield betters in the second matchup of the season. Hames is 16-1 with a WPIAL-best 260 strikeouts in 114 innings. The Raiders defeated Pine-Richland, 7-2, in the semis as Hames fanned 10, Kara Pasquaele had two hits and Bella Gross doubled and drove in two. Seneca Valley is the defending WPIAL champion and PIAA runner-up. The Raiders have allowed 12 runs all year. Hempfield scored the most against them in its 3-2 win. … Only the winner qualifies for the PIAA playoffs.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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