2024 WPIAL Class 2A softball preseason breakdown

Thursday, March 14, 2024 | 11:00 AM

After winning the past two WPIAL Class 2A softball championships, Neshannock again enters the season as a favorite.

Behind an all-state pitcher and seven returning starters, coach Jackie Lash’s Lancers have the arm and bats to again contend for WPIAL and PIAA gold.

Standing in the way will be a few familiar faces, including section rival Laurel.

Here is a look at the 2024 preseason top 5 teams, some players to watch and other diamond notes in WPIAL Class 2A softball.

Preseason Top 5

1. Neshannock (22-1 last season)

Neshannock was unbeaten in Section 1 at 12-0, then rolled to a second straight WPIAL championship last season. The Lancers’ only loss came against Everett in the PIAA quarterfinals, 9-6. Junior pitcher Addy Frye was 18-1 with a 0.458 ERA and 149 strikeouts while also batting .486 with seven home runs. The Providence commit is a two-time Trib HSSN all-star and was an all-state honoree a year ago. Also back are sophomore outfielder Jaidon Nogay, a first-team all-state selection; junior all-state second baseman Gabby Quinn, a Kent State recruit who will play third base; senior catcher Gabby Perod, an Ashland recruit; DP Abigale Measel (Ashland); and infielder Ali Giordano (Slippery Rock). Neshannock will miss graduated all-state first baseman Hunter Newman, who is now at Morgan State, and all-state shortstop Aaralyn Nogay, who is at Bowling Green.

2. Laurel (16-4)

Laurel was the Section 1 and WPIAL runner-up to Neshannock last season but has a strong returning lineup for a few more battles with the rival Lancers. Senior first baseman Addison Deal, a St. Francis (Pa.) commit, returns after earning all-state honors. Senior pitcher Autumn Boyd, a Youngstown State commit, is at full strength after battling injuries last season. Sophomore third baseman Hayden Seifert was an all-section selection a year ago. Coach Frank Duddy also expects freshmen Lexi Sherry and Lexi Krol to make an impact.

3. Charleroi (16-3)

Senior pitcher Sofia Celaschi and senior catcher/shortstop McKenna DeUnger, a Seton Hill recruit who hit .513, each were second-team all-state and are among seven returning starters for Charleroi, the Section 3 co-champ which earned the No. 4 seed in the WPIAL playoffs last season and reached the quarterfinals. Celaschi, an East Stroudsburg commit, was 14-3 with 186 strikeouts. Senior infielder/catcher Maddie Lancy also returns after earning all-section honors.

4. Serra Catholic (15-4)

Five starters return for Serra Catholic, which won Section 2 at 10-0 and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals. Senior pitcher Madisyn Zigarovich and junior catcher Cassidy Trahan return after earning all-section honors, along with senior outfielder Ava Wisniewski, senior second baseman Maria Goldstein and sophomore outfielder Kelly Morrissey.

5. OLSH (14-5)

A WPIAL semifinalist last season, OLSH went 10-2 to share the Section 3 title with Charleroi. The Chargers averaged 8.3 runs per game. Sophomore catcher Leann Walzer returns after earning all-section honors last season, and senior Morgan O’Brien, an all-state volleyball honoree, will play softball and volleyball at Westminster.

Players to watch

Paige Boehm, jr., OF, Brentwood

Sofia Celaschi, sr., P, Charleroi

Addison Deal, sr., 1B, Laurel

McKenna DeUnger, sr., C, Charleroi

Willow Eckels, jr., OF, Bentworth

Addy Frye, jr., P, Neshannock

Grace Kindel, sr., OF, Greensburg C.C.

Camdyn Kowalczyk, sr., C, Apollo-Ridge

Maddie Lancy, sr., INF, Charleroi

Peyton Mermon, jr., OF, Burgettstown

Jaidon Nogay, so., OF, Neshannock

Zoe Offie, so., OF, Shenango

Gabby Perod, sr., C, Neshannock

Gabby Quinn, jr., INF, Neshannock

Danielle Rosenberger, jr., OF, Riverside

Hayden Seifert, so., OF, Laurel

Raya Sentipal, so., INF, Burgettstown

Layla Sherman, jr., INF, Burgettstown

Cassidy Trahan, jr., C, Serra Catholic

Leann Walzer, so., C, OLSH

Madisyn Zigarovich, sr., P, Serra Catholic

Diamond notes

Greensburg Central Catholic (14-4), a WPIAL semifinal team last year, has a new coach in Chelsey Frock. Senior outfielder Grace Kindel, a Kutztown commit, returns after earning all-section honors for a third straight season.

Riverside (12-5) finished third in Section 1 a year ago and won its first playoff game in 10 years, but graduated four starters. Junior CF Danielle Rosenberger returns after hitting .549, breaking the school’s stolen base record (33) and earning all-section honors. Shortstop Mia Williams (.378) is a Fairmont commit. The Panthers will rely on sophomore pitchers Joci Cummings and Ayla Sterner.

Shenango (7-9) will look to improve on a fourth-place finish in Section 1 behind six returning starters, including sophomore outfielder Zoe Offie, who was an all-section selection.

• First-year coach Ashtin Kirkwood takes over Apollo-Ridge (6-10), which finished third in Section 2 last season. Senior catcher Camdyn Kowalczyk was an all-section selection last season.

• Burgettstown (12-8) was third in Section 3 last year and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals. Three underclassmen multi-sport athletes earned all-section honors – infielders Raya Sentipal and Layla Sherman and outfielder Peyton Mermon.

Bentworth (6-9), which tied for fourth in Section 3, will lean on six returning starters, including all-section junior outfielder Willow Eckels.

2024 alignment

Section 1: Aliquippa, Freedom, Laurel, Neshannock, New Brighton, Riverside, Shenango

Section 2: Apollo-Ridge, Brentwood, Ellis School, Greensburg C.C., Serra Catholic, Steel Valley

Section 3: Bentworth, Beth-Center, Burgettstown, Charleroi, Fort Cherry, OLSH, Washington

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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