2024 WPIAL Class 3A softball preseason breakdown

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Avonworth won a second consecutive WPIAL Class 3A title and a third in four years last spring, and the Lopes again have the look of a team worthy of hoisting a championship trophy.

Four all-state players return along with a Division I-bound shortstop, as Avonworth chases a three-peat.

But several contenders exist in Class 3A, including WPIAL runner-up Southmoreland and fellow Westmoreland County power Yough, among others.

Here is a look at the 2024 preseason top 5 teams, some players to watch and other diamond notes in WPIAL Class 3A softball.

Preseason Top 5

1. Avonworth (22-2 last season)

Coach Jenna Muncie returns nine starters from a WPIAL championship team that reached the PIAA quarterfinals last season. Avonworth won Section 1 at 10-0 behind a talented group of underclassmen that have gained valuable postseason experience. Senior pitcher Alivia Lantzy, an all-state selection and Trib HSSN all-star, went 21-2 with a 1.21 ERA and 204 strikeouts and was named the state’s 3A pitcher of the year. The UNC Pembroke recruit also hit .485 with six homers and 32 RBIs. Also back are senior all-state outfielder Leah Kuban (Kenyon), senior all-state catcher Rylee Gray (Francis Marion) and junior all-state third baseman Emma Obersteiner. Junior shortstop Sydney Savatt, who earned all-section honors last season, is a Division I Rider commit.

2. Southmoreland (16-4)

A WPIAL runner-up last season, the Scotties also return nearly their entire lineup for another run at the Section 3 championship. Senior shortstop Amarah McCutcheon, a Cal (Pa.) commit, was an all-state selection last season after batting .542 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs and 22 runs. Junior catcher Makayla Etling was second-team all-state, and senior pitcher Maddie Brown and junior outfielder Riley Puckey also return after earning all-section honors.

3. Mohawk (12-5)

Section 2 co-champs with Hopewell and Central Valley last season, Mohawk reached the WPIAL quarterfinals. The Warriors return eight starters, including their top four hitters – Addison Moskal (.533), all-state shortstop Aricka Young (.517), Mylie Pistorius (.412) and Alivia Hare (.404). Pitcher Reagan Magno had a strong performance late in the season, holding opponents to a .200 average in 55 innings.

4. Yough (10-5)

Yough finished second in Section 3 last season and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals. The Cougars return eight starters, including junior Adoria Waldier, who was an all-state shortstop who can also pitch. She belted nine home runs last season. Also back are senior Makayla Spoonhoward and junior Abby Zuraw, who was an all-section DP last season.

5. Waynesburg (16-6)

Waynesburg won Section 4 at 10-0 and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and the PIAA tournament last season. The Raiders, who won 14 of 15 games during a large stretch of last season, will be led by senior outfielder Dani Stockdale, who was an all-section selection in 2023. Playoff wins over Valley and Ligonier Valley helped the Raiders earn a spot in the PIAA playoffs.

Players to watch

Julia Barr, sr., OF, McGuffey

Maddie Brown, sr., P, Southmoreland

Grace Carver, so., OF, Quaker Valley

Ava Clark, so., P, Brownsville

Abby DeJidas, sr., INF, Freeport

Sophia Doherty, jr., INF, Derry

Makayla Etling, jr., C, Southmoreland

Pyper Ferres, jr., INF, Burrell

Jordyn Glumac, sr., C, Hopewell

Rylee Gray, sr., C, Avonworth

Katie Grimm, sr., INF, McGuffey

Alivia Hare, jr., OF, Mohawk

Maddie Kee, sr., P, Deer Lakes

Leah Kuban, sr., OF, Avonworth

Alivia Lantzy, sr., P, Avonworth

Amber McQuiston, so., P, Ellwood City

Addison Moskal, so., INF, Mohawk

Morgan Mosqueda, sr., C, South Allegheny

Mya Parish, sr., P, Hopewell

Emma Obersteiner, jr., 3B, Avonworth

Cheyenne Piper, sr., P, Ligonier Valley

Riley Puckey, jr., OF, Southmoreland

Sydney Savatt, jr., SS, Avonworth

Sydney Sekely, so., P, South Park

Sydney Selker, sr., P, Freeport

Bella Stewart, jr., C, Burrell

Dani Stockdale, sr., OF, Waynesburg

Adoria Waldier, jr., INF, Yough

Aricka Young, sr., INF, Mohawk

Abby Zuraw, jr., DP, Yough

Diamond notes

• Burrell (14-7), a WPIAL semifinalist last season, returns a pair of all-section players – junior shortstop Pyper Ferres (.322), an Ohio commit, and junior catcher Bella Stewart. The Bucs will miss all-state pitcher Katie Armstrong, who is playing at Gannon after going 14-7 with a 1.12 ERA and 269 strikeouts. Junior third baseman Braelyn Jones also returns after batting .317 with three homers and 23 RBIs.

Deer Lakes (10-6) finished third in Section 1 last season behind senior pitcher Maddie Kee, who hit .462 with 13 RBIs and also was 10-5 in the circle with a 2.64 ERA and 127 strikeouts.

• Senior all-section pitcher Cheyenne Piper returns to lead Ligonier Valley (9-8) after she posted a 1.36 ERA and struck out 194 in 113⅓ innings last season

Mt. Pleasant (11-9), which won the 2021 WPIAL title, has eight starters back, led by senior outfielder Emma Scanlon (.358), senior catcher Addy Reese and junior pitcher GiGi Stanek, who had 53 strikeouts in 52 innings.

• Section 2 tri-champ Hopewell (10-7) will be led by senior pitcher Mya Parish, a Bethany recruit, and senior catcher Jordyn Glumac.

• Nine starters are back for Ellwood City (11-6) and 19th year coach Gary Rozanski, who has more than 200 career wins. Sophomore pitcher Amber McQuiston earned all-section honors last season.

• Akron commit Sydney Selker (4-4, 2.68 ERA, .360 avg) returns to the circle for Freeport (5-11), which finished fifth in Section 1.

2024 alignment

Section 1: Avonworth, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Freeport, Shady Side Academy, Valley

Section 2: Beaver Falls, Central Valley, Ellwood City, Hopewell, Mohawk, Quaker Valley

Section 3: Derry, Ligonier Valley, Mt. Pleasant, South Allegheny, Southmoreland, Yough

Section 4: Brownsville, Keystone Oaks, McGuffey, Seton LaSalle, South Park, Waynesburg Central

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More High School Sports

Norwin stuns defending champion Hempfield in Class 6A semifinals
High school roundup for May 22, 2024: Lexie Hames fans 18 as Seneca Valley moves into WPIAL finals
Kiski Area AD Peterman retiring after long career in athletic administration
Armstrong caps comeback win over Penn-Trafford with walk-off homer by Emma Paul
WPIAL sets championship, consolation schedule for 2024 baseball playoffs