2024 WPIAL Class A softball preseason breakdown

Friday, March 15, 2024 | 9:00 AM

Three WPIAL underclassman pitchers earned first-team all-state honors last season, and each returns for the 2024 season, hoping to lead her team to a championship.

Union captured a second straight district title and finished as the PIAA runner-up behind Mia Preuhs in the circle. WPIAL runner-up Carmichaels has sophomore pitcher Bailey Barnyak, and WPIAL semifinalist Chartiers-Houston will again look to junior pitcher Meadow Ferri.

All three teams figure to be in the mix for a district title, along with some other contenders.

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

Preseason Top 5

1. Union (20-4 last season)

Union has claimed back-to-back WPIAL titles, ending West Greene’s five-year reign atop Class A. The Scotties return four all-state players in their quest to defend their crown. The group is led by junior pitcher Mia Preuhs, who went 13-4 in the circle with 151 strikeouts, including 17 in one state playoff win. She hit .500 with 33 RBIs, including 10 home runs. Also back are sophomore infielder Olivia Williams, sophomore DP Olivia Benedict and junior outfielder Addie Nogay. All three earned all-state honors. Senior catcher Bella Cameron was an all-section selection.

2. Carmichaels (19-2)

Carmichaels is looking for its first WPIAL title since winning back-to-back in 1997-98. Three all-state players and eight returning starters will help bolster that effort. The Mighty Mikes won Section 2 at 12-0, finished as WPIAL runners-up and advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals. Sophomore pitcher Bailey Barnyak was an all-state honoree after going 17-2 with a 1.05 ERA and 206 strikeouts. All-state shortstop Carys McConnell hit .507 with 37 RBIs, and junior all-state first baseman/DP Ali Jacobs batted .523.

3. Chartiers-Houston (15-7)

After finishing second in Section 2, Chartiers-Houston reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals a year ago. Six starters return, led by a trio of all-state selections – junior pitcher Meadow Ferri, junior catcher Ella Richey and sophomore shortstop Lauren Rush. Ferri and Richey are two-time all-state picks. Outfielder Emily Swarrow is the team’s lone senior for coach Tricia Alderson, who has more than 430 wins in her 29-year career.

4. Frazier (14-4)

The Commodores won the Section 3 title last season and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals before falling to Carmichaels. They also lost in the PIAA first round to Claysburg-Kimmel. Back is junior all-state third baseman Grace Vaughn, who hit .541 with 22 RBIs, and all-section junior catcher Emilia Bednar. Frazier will miss all-state first-team selections Maria Felsher and Delaney Warnick.

5. West Greene (12-8)

After finishing 8-4 in Section 2 for a third-place finish, West Greene advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals before falling to Chartiers-Houston. The Pioneers have five returning starters, including senior all-section outfielder Ali Goodwin and pitcher Payton Gilbert, who had 12 wins and 146 strikeouts as a sophomore. They will miss three-time all-state catcher London Whipkey, who hit over .400 each season.

Players to watch

Johna Abramowicz, jr., P, Northgate

Bailey Barnyak, so., P, Carmichaels

Emilia Bednar, jr., C, Frazier

Olivia Benedict, so., DP, Union

Bella Cameron, sr., C, Union

Alison Delong, sr., INF, South Side

Meadow Ferri, jr., P, Chartiers-Houston

Ali Goodwin, sr., OF, West Greene

Ali Jacobs, jr., INF, Carmichaels

Kendra Jones, jr., INF, Monessen

Carys McConnell, so., INF, Carmichaels

Addie Nogay, jr., OF, Union

Miladjia Pavlovich, so., OF, South Side

Mia Preuhs, jr., P, Union

Ella Richey, jr., C, Chartiers-Houston

Lauren Rush, so., INF, Chartiers-Houston

Grace Stein, so., P, Jeannette

Addy Stout, sr., C, Jeannette

Grace Vaughn, jr., 3B, Frazier

Madison Weitzel, jr., INF, Leechburg

Olivia Williams, so., INF, Union

Ava Wood, so., OF, Jefferson-Morgan

Diamond notes

Leechburg (11-8) will try to qualify for the playoffs for the 37th straight season. The Blue Devils return junior all-section infielder Madison Weitzel. They will miss graduated pitcher Anna Cibik, who hit .489 with five homers, and all-state outfielder Karli Mazak, who hit .518.

• Grace Stein had quite a debut as a freshman for Jeannette (12-5) last season. The pitcher finished 12-5 with a 1.50 ERA and 136 strikeouts while tossing five no-hitters and also batted .590. Senior catcher Addy Stout also returns after earning all-section honors.

• Eight starters return for Mapletown (6-11), including leading hitter Marley Shiflett and pitcher Devan Clark. The Maples finished fifth in a talented Section 2 last season.

Northgate (8-6), which finished tied for second in Section 1 last season at 8-4, will be led by junior pitcher Johna Abramowicz, who was an all-section selection a year ago and is chasing Northgate’s all-time wins and strikeouts records.

St. Joseph (3-9) is starting a little behind while it waits for reinforcements from the girls basketball team that reached the PIAA Class A second round. Pitcher/infielder Jamie Noonan, a Waynesburg commit, returns after batting .600, along with junior Violet Hill (.357), Frostburg State basketball recruit Julie Spinelli (.308) and Kayla O’Connor (.300).

2024 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.

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

More High School Sports

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
Belle Vernon hires former Shaler, Gateway coach to lead girls basketball program