5 position players to watch in the WPIAL softball playoffs
By: Don Rebel
Saturday, May 12, 2018 | 9:45 AM
The game of softball at the high school level has become very offensive in recent years. It wasn't that long ago the WPIAL softball playoff scoreboard was littered with 1-0 results. Now the focus for teams is to play better defense because strikeouts overall are down and balls in play are the norm. Here are some players who may or may not walk tall, but they are bringing a heavy stick into the WPIAL playoffs.
Taylor Dadig, Baldwin, senior
Dadig has been the starting shortstop at Baldwin for all four years in her scholastic career. This season, the George Mason recruit is batting .586, with four doubles, two triples and two home runs. What might even be more impressive in helping the Highlanders to the Section 1-6A crown and the No. 2-seed in the playoffs is that Dadig has yet to strike out this season.
Annalai Paoli, Albert Gallatin, sophomore
There hasn't been a lot of title talk in recent years at Albert Gallatin. But Paoli and her Colonials' teammates are trying to change that. In 2016, Albert Gallatin finished 4-13. Then Paoli arrived and the Colonials made the playoffs, reached the WPIAL semifinals and qualified for a PIAA tournament in 2017. They won Section 2-5A this season with an 11-3 record and earned the No. 2 seed in this year's Class 5A playoffs thanks in large part to Paoli, who hit .510 with 10 home runs and 29 runs batted in.
Katlyn Pavlick, South Park, senior
South Park saw its chances of a WPIAL title come to an end in 2017 in a semifinals loss to Deer Lakes. But the Eagles made the most of the postseason second chance, notching four victories in the PIAA playoffs to win state gold. Now the Eagles wear a big bulls-eye on their chest as the top seed in the WPIAL Class 3A tournament. Pavlick is part of a lethal one-two punch in the Eagles' order, along with Penn State recruit Kaitlyn Morrison. Pavlick, who has committed to Pitt, is hitting .646 with 10 doubles, 11 home runs, 39 RBIs and 32 runs scored.
Lexi Wagner, Seton LaSalle, senior
In two of Wagner's three previous years at Seton LaSalle, the team advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and the state tournament. Now, before she goes off to continue her softball career at Oregon, Wagner and the Rebels hope the third time is a charm. Being the third seed in Class 2A might be an omen. Wagner batted .681 this year with 13 home runs, 35 RBIs, 38 runs scored and one game-winning walk off grand slam in what the Rebels hope is a sweet chapter to a championship story.
Sarah Seamans, Union, senior
Softball history continues to be made at Union, a small school in Lawrence County. Last year, Union finished tied for first in Section 1-A with Sewickley Academy. It was the first time in program history the Scotties earned a share of a section title. They went one better this year by winning the section championship outright with a 15-2 mark overall. Seamans played a big part in the circle and at the plate. She was 13-1 with a 2.00 ERA and 132 strikeouts, and also hit .745 with five doubles, 10 triples and five home runs with 37 RBIs in leading the Scotties to the No. 4 seed and an opening-round bye in Class A.
Don Rebel is a TribLive High School Sports Network broadcaster and staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.