2024 WPIAL Class 5A softball preseason breakdown

Monday, March 11, 2024 | 11:00 AM

Trinity captured its first WPIAL softball title last season by outslugging top-seeded Armstrong, 11-7. Shaler made a run through the PIAA tournament to finish as the state runner-up.

All three teams again have some firepower in the lineup and should challenge for the district championship and possibly beyond.

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

Preseason Top 5

1. Shaler (22-2 last season)

The Titans were PIAA runners-up last season after falling to Northern York, 3-2 in nine innings, in the state title game. Shaler won Section 1 at 10-0 and reached the WPIAL semifinals before losing to Trinity, 5-4. The Titans then rattled off three wins in the state tournament. All-state sophomore pitcher Bria Bosiljevac, who had 52 strikeouts in four PIAA tournament starts, returns, along with all-section DP Emily Spears. They graduated all-state first baseman Eloise Facher and all-state utility player Bethany Rodman. Shaler hit nine home runs in four state-tournament games.

2. Armstrong (21-3)

Armstrong, the 2022 WPIAL champion and last season’s runner-up, will try to get back on the championship track behind senior Emma Paul, an all-state shortstop and Fairmont State recruit who led the Armstrong girls basketball team to a WPIAL runner-up finish with 36 points in the title game last week. She hit .478 with 32 RBIs last spring. The River Hawks played in the state championship game in 2021 and ’22 and reached the PIAA semifinals last season where they fell to Shaler. They graduated all-state outfielders Jenna Clontz and Emma Smerick but return senior infielder Jess Pugh, who hit five homers last season and earned second-team all-section recognition.

3. West Allegheny (19-2)

WPIAL power West Allegheny was 10-0 in Section 3 last season and entered the postseason after compiling an 18-1 regular season record. The Indians reached the WPIAL quarterfinals where they fell to South Fayette. Senior pitcher Elly Vicari-Baker and junior second baseman Aubrey Police, a Villanova commit, return after earning first-team all-section honors. Police also was picked to the all-state team. The team also will rely on junior infielder Ava Henke, an Ohio commit, and junior catcher Addy Vicari-Baker, who hit .576 last season.

4. Trinity (20-3)

Trinity captured the WPIAL title last season behind a lineup that averaged better than 7 runs per game. The Hillers won Section 4 at 10-0 and reached the PIAA quarterfinals. They will miss graduated all-state pitcher Taylor Dunn and all-state outfielder Amber Morgan, but return junior infielder Hanna Suhoski, who was an all-state selection at shortstop after she hit .520 with five homers and 24 RBIs in the regular season. Senior designated player Finley Hohn, a La Roche commit, also returns.

5. Franklin Regional (12-7)

Section 2 runner-up Franklin Regional returns the talented junior tandem of Toryn Fulton and Ciara Camacho. Fulton, a second baseman and South Florida recruit, hit .552 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs last season. Camacho, a catcher, is a Kent State commit. Both were first-team all-section selections for Section 2 coach of the year Jim Armstrong. Sophomore Adrianna Martz also returns, but the Panthers graduated six senior starters.

Players to watch

Morgan Alisesky, jr., INF, Thomas Jefferson

Stephanie Binek, sr., DP, South Fayette

Emma Bogacki, jr., P, Western Beaver

Bria Bosiljevac, so., P, Shaler

Iris Burd, sr., P, Connellsville

Ciara Camacho, jr., C, Franklin Regional

MJ D’Aniello, sr., OF, Moon

Kirra Davis, sr., INF, Connellsville

Alexa Edmunds, jr., P, North Hills

Toryn Fulton, jr., INF, Franklin Regional

Ava Henke, jr, INF, West Allegheny

Finley Hohn, sr., DP, Trinity

Zoe Krizan, sr., OF, Thomas Jefferson

Izzie LeFebvre, jr., INF, Western Beaver

Keara Mangieri, jr., INF, New Castle

Makenzie Morgan, jr., C, Peters Township

Bella Mubel, sr., INF, Shaler

Emma Paul, sr., INF, Armstrong

Aubrey Police, jr., INF, West Allegheny

Cameron Ponko, jr., INF, Penn-Trafford

Alyssa Schaffold, so., C, Shaler

Taylor Schmitt, sr., C, Mars

Shaylyn Shall, sr., OF, Western Beaver

Sia Spano, so., OF, Bethel Park

Emily Spears, jr., DP, Shaler

Elly Vicari-Baker, sr., P, West Allegheny

Kayla Williams, sr., P, Latrobe

Diamond notes

• South Fayette (12-11) reached the semifinals as the No. 12 seed last season. Senior DP Stephanie Binek, an Arcadia recruit, returns after earning first-team all-section plaudits.

Latrobe (15-4) finished as the Section 2 runner-up and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals last season. Back are junior pitcher Kayla Williams, a Slippery Rock commit, and senior Corrine Wright, who will play at Gannon.

• Thomas Jefferson (14-6) has several all-section performers back who helped the Jaguars finish second in Section 4 – junior infielders Morgan Alisesky, Ali Chalovich and Olivia Stock and senior outfielder Zoe Krizan, a Division I Drexel commit.

Plum (10-7), which finished third in Section 1, returns seven starters, including catcher Danielle Pici and pitcher/third baseman Riley Stephans, who each earned second-team all-section honors. Pitcher Mackenzie Lang graduated.

• After finishing third in Section 3, Western Beaver (8-8) brings back a pair of all-state players in outfielder Shaylyn Shall and infielder Izzie LeFebvre and all-section pitcher Emma Bogacki.

• Junior catcher Makenzie Morgan, a Marist recruit and first-team all-section selection, returns to lead Peters Township (7-10).

New Castle (6-14) will look to rebound from a 1-9 finish in Section 3 behind all-state junior third baseman Olivia Hood and Pitt commit Keara Mangieri, a junior infielderwho was second-team all-section.

Mars (7-9) returns senior all-state catcher Taylor Schmitt, who will play at Seton Hill next season.

• Connellsville (2-14) features two senior all-section players — infielder Kirra Davis, a Cal (Pa.) recruit, and pitcher Iris Burd.

2024 alignment

Section 1: Fox Chapel, North Hills, Oakland Catholic, Penn Hills, Plum, Shaler

Section 2: Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Kiski Area, Latrobe, Penn-Trafford

Section 3: Mars, Moon, New Castle, South Fayette, West Allegheny, Western Beaver

Section 4: Bethel Park, Connellsville, Peters Township, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, Upper St. Clair

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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