2023 WPIAL Class A softball preseason breakdown

Saturday, March 18, 2023 | 8:01 AM

Union edged West Greene, 3-2, to capture its first WPIAL Class A softball title last season.

The Scotties ended West Greene’s run of five straight WPIAL championships. Both teams advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals and are again expected to contend for the district title.

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

Preseason Top 5

1. Union (21-4 last season)

The Scotties return seven starters from their WPIAL championship team, including sophomore all-state pitcher Mia Pruehs, who was the Trib HSSN Class A player of the year after she hit .524 with 29 RBIs and also was 14-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 193 strikeouts. She had 33 strikeouts in the WPIAL playoffs alone and 15 strikeouts in the final game of the season, a state quarterfinal loss to Saegertown. Also back are Mallory Gorgacz, a second-team all-state shortstop, and all-section picks Tori May and Addison Nogay.

2. Frazier (18-2)

The WPIAL Class 2A runner-up last season, Frazier returns eight starters, including senior infielder Delaney Warnick (.509, 5 HR, 33 RBIs) and outfielder Jensyn Hartman. Both earned all-state and all-section honors. Junior pitcher Nicole Palmer was 19-1 last season and compiled nearly 300 strikeouts the past two years but decided not to play this season. Madison Bednar is back from injury and will be in the circle for the Commodores. All-state shortstop Victoria Washinski (Glenville State) graduated.

3. West Greene (15-5)

West Greene’s run of titles ended last spring, but the Pioneers have a solid lineup of five returning starters, including first-team all-state catcher London Whipkey, who hit .493 with three homers and 24 RBIs last season. Also back are pitcher Payton Gilbert, who hit .400, infielders Lexi Six and Taylor Karvan, and outfielder Ali Goodwin. The Pioneers graduated all-state players Kiley Meek, Olivia Kiger and Katie Lampe, among others.

4. Chartiers-Houston (16-4)

The Section 1-2A champion Bucs reached the WPIAL quarterfinals last season with a veteran team. They return four starters, including two all-state players — pitcher Meadow Ferri and catcher Ella Richey. Kaileigh Walton is the team’s lone senior. Five starters graduated, including Nicole Kloes, Bella Hess and Paige McAvoy, who all earned all-state recognition. Freshmen infielders Lauren Rush and Seanna Riggle could provide immediate impact.

5. Carmichaels (10-6)

Carmichaels finished third in Section 3-2A last year behind senior centerfielder Sophia Zalar, who was an all-state second-team selection for the second time. Eight starters are back for the Mighty Mikes, including pitcher Allie Miller (8-6, 3.98 ERA). Carmichaels also features talented freshmen who could play key roles.

Players to watch

Anna Cibik, sr., P, Leechburg

Meadow Ferri, sr., P, Chartiers-Houston

Mallory Gorgacz, jr., INF, Union

Jensyn Hartman, sr., OF, Frazier

Tori May, jr., INF, Union

Karli Mazak, sr., OF, Leechburg

Addison Nogay, so., OF, Union

Mia Pruehs, so., P, Union

Ava Richards, jr., OF, Leechburg

Ella Richey, so., C, Chartiers-Houston

Lydia Shaffer, jr., INF, Rochester

Julie Spinelli, jr., OF, St. Joseph

Delaney Warnick, sr., INF, Frazier

London Whipkey, sr., C, West Greene

Sophia Zalar, sr., OF, Carmichaels

Diamond notes

• The highlights of Class A’s alignment changes involve the six teams that dropped down — Carlynton, California, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston, Frazier and Jeannette.

There also was some movement in Section 3 as Bishop Canevin moved over from Section 1 and Monessen from Section 2. Northgate moved from Section 3 to 1.

• Veteran coach Joe Giacomin is in his first year leading Springdale (11-3), which won Section 3 and reached the WPIAL semifinals last season. The Dynamos graduated seven players but return sophomores Ashlyn Ferdebar and Elyssia Radovitch and junior Kaden Mizak.

• Leechburg (9-6) returns seven starters, including senior pitcher Anna Cibik (130 strikeouts) and senior third baseman Karli Mazak. The Section 3 runners-up made the WPIAL quarterfinals.

St. Joseph (8-10) returns seven starters, including two-time all-section infielder Julie Spinelli and pitcher Jamie Noonan, as it seeks a third straight trip to the playoffs.

South Side (13-5) graduated four all-section players — Sage Tellish, Laney Lewis, Grace Woodling and Madi Fischer.

• Strikeout specialist Johna Abramowicz will lead the way for Northgate (4-9), which returns seven starters, including power hitters Jenna Thomas and Shyla Baptiste.

Rochester (4-8) returns eight players with starting experience, including all-section infielder Lydia Shaffer, who will catch, pitch and play third base.

Jeannette (1-15) returns six starters and added a pair of talented freshmen in Grace Stein and Abby Shaw.

Eden Christian joined the WPIAL this season and will play in Section 1-A.

Riverview (0-10) will not field a varsity team in 2023 because of low numbers. The program also will be required to sit out 2024, the second year of the current two-year alignment cycle.

2023 alignment

Section 1: Carlynton, Cornell, Eden Christian Academy, Northgate, Rochester, Sewickley Academy, South Side, Union

Section 2: Avella, California, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene

Section 3: Bishop Canevin, Frazier, Jeannette, Leechburg, Monessen, Springdale, St. Joseph

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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