2024 WPIAL Class 4A softball preseason breakdown

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 | 11:00 AM

Competition was spirited in Class 4A softball last season, and several contenders again look to have rosters ready to battle for WPIAL and PIAA glory.

Parity was on display throughout the postseason a year ago, as Belle Vernon edged Montour for the WPIAL title but lost to WPIAL No. 1 seed Elizabeth Forward in the PIAA quarterfinals. The Warriors then lost to Montour in the state semifinals, as the Spartans went on to finish as PIAA runners-up.

All three again will look to contend, along with some other strong squads in Class 4A.

Here is a look at the 2024 preseason top 5 teams, some players to watch and other diamond notes in WPIAL Class 4A softball.

Preseason Top 5

1. Elizabeth Forward (20-2 last season)

Elizabeth Forward was the WPIAL’s third-place finisher after earning the tournament’s No. 1 seed. The Warriors then reached the PIAA semifinals before falling to Montour, 4-1. They outscored Section 2 opponents 130-6 en route to a 12-0 record and section title. Back is senior all-state pitcher Shelby Telegdy, who was 20-2 with a 0.75 ERA and 176 strikeouts and also hit .589 with seven homers and 30 RBIs. Sophomore shortstop Julia Resnick and sophomore outfielder Hannah Evans earned all-state honors last season. Catcher Alivia Grimm is also among a group of eight returning starters.

2. Montour (18-5)

Six starters return for the WPIAL and PIAA runner-up Spartans, including senior first baseman Jana Hess, who earned all-section honors after batting .455. Outfielder Hailey Staub (.385), second baseman Shania Cope (.338) and shortstop Delaney Barto (.315) also return. The Spartans will miss graduates Mia Arndt (Point Park) and pitcher Kaitlyn Molitoris (Robert Morris), a Trib HSSN all-star who had a 2.09 ERA and 201 strikeouts.

3. Belle Vernon (19-5)

WPIAL champion Belle Vernon won a fifth district title and fourth since 2015 last season. The Leopards averaged more than 8 runs per game. They will be led by junior second baseman Lauren VanDivner, who earned all-state honors last season, as well as senior first baseman Gracie Sokol, a Lackawanna commit, and senior infielder Ava Zubovic, a Mercyhurst recruit, who were each all-section selections.

4. Chartiers Valley (17-4)

A WPIAL semifinalist last season, Chartiers Valley tied Montour for the Section 3 title at 11-1. The Colts, who averaged 9 runs per game last season, will be led by sophomore catcher Lily Dufill, who was a first-team all-state selection last season.

5. West Mifflin (13-6)

West Mifflin tied Knoch for the Section 1 title at 8-2 last season and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals. Six experienced starters return but the Titans also expect to play several freshmen and sophomores in key roles. Outfielder Kaleigh Tatters and pitcher/third baseman Rylie Dobnak were all-section selections as freshmen. Junior catcher Caleigh Ignat and sophomore infielder Aubrey Jaskulski also return after strong seasons.

Players to watch

Maggie Cunningham, jr,. INF, Indiana

Lizzie Danik, so., OF, Knoch

Riley Dobnak, so., INF, West Mifflin

Lily Dufill, so., C, Chartiers Valley

Alivia Grimm, jr., C, Elizabeth Forward

Haley Hamilton, sr., C, Indiana

Jana Hess, sr., INF, Montour

Jessica Lange, sr., DP, Hampton

Charlotte Lomb, sr., INF, Hampton

Jessica Miller, sr., OF, McKeesport

Julia Resnik, so., INF, Elizabeth Forward

Gionnah Ruffner, sr., OF, Greensburg Salem

Carrah Scardina, jr., INF, Highlands

Grace Sokol, jr., INF, Belle Vernon

Sami Springman, jr., INF, Beaver

Kayleigh Tatters, so., OF, West Mifflin

Shelby Telegdy, sr., P, Elizabeth Forward

Lauren VanDivner, jr., 2B, Belle Vernon

Olivia Zimmerman, sr., P, Indiana

Ava Zubovic, sr., INF, Belle Vernon

Diamond notes

• Knoch (11-9), which shared the Section 1 title with West Mifflin last season, returns six starters, including sophomore all-section shortstop Lizzy Danik.

• Indiana (16-5) has three all-section players back after finishing third in Section 1 and reaching the quarterfinals last season — senior catcher Haley Hamilton (Saint Vincent), junior infielder Maggie Cunningham and senior pitcher Olivia Zimmerman, a Palm Beach Atlantic commit.

Greensburg Salem (10-8), which finished third in Section 2, returns senior Gionnah Ruffner, a Seton Hall commit who hit .534 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs and will move from outfield to catcher. Alle Scarpa returns to the circle after posting a 7-5 record with 77 strikeouts. She also hit .327 with two homers and 14 RBIs.

• Hampton (13-6) has eight returning starters, led by seniors Jessica Lange and Charlotte Lomb, who earned all-section recognition, and senior catcher Mackenzie Reese, a Pitt recruit who hit .593 with 27 RBIs. Lomb, a shortstop, is an Albany recruit who hit .500 with six homers and 21 RBIs. Coach Kate Hedderman replaces Ron Fedell, who was 202-194-1 in 23 seasons.

• Beaver (7-10), which won WPIAL titles in 2021 and ’22, was fourth in Section 3 last year and lost to Indiana in the first round. Six starters return, including all-section infielder Sami Springman (.490).

• Junior infielder Carrah Scardina returns to lead Highlands (4-12) after hitting .483 with 27 RBIs.

2024 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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