Bethel Park notebook: Makenzie Wade, Belinda Bova play in softball all-star game

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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | 10:22 AM


The inaugural Western PA Softball All-Star Game between Team Gold and Team Black took place June 18 at Plum High School.

Team Black won the game, 7-4.

Many of the WPIAL’s top senior players participated in what was termed “a celebration of the 2024 spring season.”

Two girls from Bethel Park, pitcher Makenzie Wade and outfielder Belinda Bova, were selected to play for Team Black.

Other players scheduled to compete for Team Black included:

Pitchers: Madison Baker, Armstrong; Alivia Lantzy, Avonworth; Shelby Telegdy, Elizabeth Forward; Madison Brown, Southmoreland; Autumn Boyd, Laurel

Catchers: Alexis Brua, Laurel; Rylee Gray, Avonworth; Lauren Sipple, Penn Hills

First base: Jessie Pugh, Armstrong.

Second base: Stephanie Esswein, Mars; Ali Giordano, Neshannock.

Third base: Mia Dunleavy, Fox Chapel; Bella Mubel, Shaler.

Shortstop: Emma Paul, Armstrong; Shaye Bailey, Freedom; Amarah McCutcheon, Southmoreland.

Outfield: Grace Kindel, Greensburg Central Catholic; Autumn Weitzel, Chartiers Valley; Jazalyn Sanders, Woodland Hills; Mykayla Spoonhoward, Yough; London Irish, Penn Hills.

Schools represented on Team Gold included: Norwin, Indiana, Latrobe, Serra Catholic, Freeport, Neshannock, South Allegheny, Belle Vernon, Chartiers Valley, Mohawk, Freeport, North Hills, Kiski Area, Mt. Pleasant, Highlands and Western Beaver.

Armstrong (Team Black), Norwin (Team Gold) and Chartiers Valley, each with three players, had the most representation in the all-star event.

Armstrong defeated Thomas Jefferson, 9-3, in the WPIAL Class 5A championship game this year and advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals. The River Hawks finished 19-4.

Norwin was the WPIAL runner-up in Class 6-A, losing to Seneca Valley, 4-3, in the finals. The Knights ended up 10-11.

Chartiers Valley had two players on Team Gold and one on Team Black. CV won the WPIAL Class 4A consolation game against Blackhawk, 6-4, and was a PIAA quarterfinalist. The Colts finished 18-5.

Bethel Park, Avonworth, Southmoreland, Laurel, Penn Hills, Indiana, Mohawk, Neshannock and Freeport all were represented by two players at the all-star game.

BP softball senior-heavy

There were nine seniors — count ‘em, nine — on the Bethel Park softball team in 2024.

The senior class was represented on the club by pitchers Alayna Owen and Wade; catcher Lupe McElvenny; infielders Nicolette Antonucci, Julia Miller and Rebecca Gillenberger; plus outfielders Savana Knauff, Madison Kristobak and Bova.

Gillenberger was a three-year starter in softball and basketball and joined the golf team as a senior.

“I think the team was pretty successful this year for having a brand-new coach,” Gillenberger said. “They definitely will be a successful, playoff contending team in future years.”

Gillenberger graduated with a 4.3 GPA and will be attending Pitt in the fall to major in biology on the pre-physical therapy track. She was a member of the National Honor Society and homecoming committee, serving as co-chair of the awards committee.

“One of my favorite high school memories is going to all of the sporting events, but specifically football games, with my friends,” she said. ”I think I will miss seeing my friends every day at school, and I will definitely miss playing sports.”

The Black Hawks’ starting lineup in 2024 regularly consisted of Gillenberger (DH), Wade (P), McElvenny (C), junior Taylor Striegel (1B), Miller (2B), sophomore Anna Duquid (3B), junior Audrey Campbell (SS), and in the outfield, Bova (RF), and sophomores Sia Spano (CF) and Julia Bitkowski (LF).

Bethel Park, led by first-year coach Nicole Davis, finished 5-5 in Section 4-5A and 10-10 overall. The Black Hawks competed in a tight section race and ended up fourth behind Connellsville (7-3), Trinity (7-3) and Thomas Jefferson (6-4) and ahead of Upper St. Clair (4-6).

The Black Hawks won three of their final four regular-season games but lost to Penn-Trafford, 3-2, in the WPIAL playoffs.

Bethel Park players take the ice

Last year’s PIHL girls division champion, Team Southeast, finished in fourth place this season with a 6-4 record.

Southeast then lost to the East, 4-2, in the first round of the playoffs.

This year’s Southeast team was heavily populated by girls from Bethel Park, including seniors Lidia Lorenzi (F), Samantha Kern (D) and Nina Romary (D); sophomores Cecilia Romary (D), Harley Dale (D) and Kaylin Pastor (GK); plus freshman Ella Krisfalusy (F).

“I believe our team had a great season,” Lorenzi said. “We all really bonded as a team and had fun off and on the ice, which is very important.

“I had a fun time playing in the PIHL this year and every other year. I found it to be competitive, yet lighthearted. Playing against former teammates and familiar faces made it so much fun.”

Lorenzi has been playing hockey since her middle school days. She has a 4.3 GPA and will attend IUP in the fall to study medical imaging.

“Sam Kern, one of my teammates, is actually who got me into hockey,” Lorenzi said. “Six years ago, she asked me if I would want to play and ever since we both have been playing.

“I love what the PIHL is doing for this program and am excited to see this league grow.”

Pastor finished with a 3-3 record in 2024. She faced 125 shots and made 102 saves. She surrendered 23 goals, giving her a 3.83 goals-against average and a .816 save %.

Bryan Kern was Southeast’s coach this season.

Did you know?

A total of 48 teams will compete in Class 3A boys golf this fall including eight in Section 5: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Thomas Jefferson and Trinity.

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