Breaking down changes to the 2023-24 WPIAL baseball alignment

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Monday, July 25, 2022 | 10:23 AM


The WPIAL released new section alignments for the next two-year cycle in all sports, and changes will be implemented starting this fall.

This summer, the Tribune-Review will break down changes for each of the WPIAL sports.

Here’s a look at the upcoming WPIAL baseball season:

2022 WPIAL championships

Class 6A: Mt. Lebanon

Class 5A: West Allegheny

Class 4A: West Mifflin

Class 3A: South Park

Class 2A: Serra Catholic

Class A: Union

Notable changes

• As with a number of other WPIAL sports, baseball realignment features several changes, both between classifications and within the various sections.

There will still be 124 teams competing in WPIAL baseball over the next two-year cycle.

• In Class 6A, WPIAL runner-up Upper St. Clair dropped down to 5A, leaving just 11 teams spread over two sections. Central Catholic moved into Section 2, so there are only five teams in Section 1 — Allderdice, Butler, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley.

• Class 5A decreased from 25 to 19 teams as Albert Gallatin, Latrobe, Chartiers Valley, McKeesport, Thomas Jefferson, Woodland Hills, Hampton and Kiski Area all dropped to 4A.

New Castle moved up from 4A and will join Section 3.

Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Penn Hills and Plum moved from Section 2 to 1 and will form an East Suburbs section with Franklin Regional, Gateway and Penn-Trafford.

Bethel Park, Connellsville, Peters Township and Trinity left the defunct Section 4 to join South Fayette and USC in Section 2.

• Class 4A moved from 20 to 24 teams and from three sections to four. In addition to the teams that dropped from 5A, Hopewell — the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL 3A playoffs last season — bumped up to the Beaver County-heavy Section 1-4A with Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley and Montour.

Former Section 1 rivals Highlands, Indiana, Knoch and North Catholic form the new Section 4 with Hampton and Kiski Area.

Section 2 will feature former Section 3 foes Belle Vernon, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Uniontown and newcomers Albert Gallatin and Latrobe.

• The Class 3A field grew from 23 to 27 teams, including WPIAL runner-up Neshannock, semifinalist Riverside, Shenango, Sto-Rox and Shady Side Academy, which all moved up a class.

In addition, Quaker Valley, Burrell, Freeport and Greensburg Salem all dropped from 4A. The Bucs and Yellowjackets will join A-K Valley rivals Deer Lakes, Valley and Shady Side Academy in Section 3 with Derry and East Allegheny.

Mt. Pleasant moves from Section 3 to 4 with Westmoreland County foes Greensburg Salem, Southmoreland and Yough, as well as Brownsville, McGuffey and Waynesburg Central.

• In Class 2A, Charleroi, Freedom, New Brighton and Ligonier Valley all dropped down from 3A and OLSH, Greensburg Central Catholic and Riverview moved up from Class A to compile a 22-team field, down from 26 in the past cycle. There also will be just three sections instead of four.

Burgettstown and Chartiers-Houston moved into Section 1 from the defunct Section 4 to form a Washington County/Mon Valley heavy group with Bentworth, Beth-Center, Charleroi, Frazier and Washington.

• Class A grew from 18 teams to 21 with the addition of six teams that dropped from 2A — California, Carmichaels and Fort Cherry to Section 1; Summit Academy to Section 2; and Carlynton and Clairton to Section 3.

There was lots of movement to accommodate the new teams geographically, as Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown and West Greene moved to Section 1 with Avella.

Section 2 will feature familiar A-K Valley rivals Leechburg, Springdale and St. Joseph with Rochester, Union, Western Beaver and Summit.

Avella (1) and Eden Christian (3) and Sewickley Academy (3) were the only Class A teams to stay in their respective sections.

Section series continue

• WPIAL officials plan to continue scheduling section series on back-to-back days for baseball season. Each week, teams will play a two-game series against the same opponent (home-away) on back-to-back days, weather permitting.

Past champions

• North Allegheny, which won the 2021 Class 6A district title, holds the most WPIAL baseball championships with eight.

Other schools with five or more titles include Allegheny (7), McKeesport (7), California (6), Neshannock (6), Pine-Richland (6), Ellwood City (5), Mt. Lebanon (5), Riverside (5), Shaler (5) and West Allegheny (5).

Key dates

March 6: First practice date

March 11: First scrimmage date

March 17: First play date

March 27: First section date

May 12: Playoff pairings meeting

May 30-31: WPIAL championships, Wild Things Park

June 15-16: PIAA championships, Penn State

2023-24 alignment

Class 6A (11 teams)

Section 1: Allderdice, Butler, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley

Section 2: Baldwin, Canon-McMillan, Central Catholic, Hempfield, Mt. Lebanon, Norwin

Class 5A (19 teams)

Section 1: Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn Hills, Penn-Trafford, Plum

Section 2: Bethel Park, Connellsville, Peters Township, South Fayette, Trinity, Upper St. Clair

Section 3: Mars, Moon, New Castle, North Hills, Shaler, West Allegheny

Class 4A (24 teams)

Section 1: Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell, Montour

Section 2: Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Latrobe, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Uniontown

Section 3: Chartiers Valley, Elizabeth Forward, McKeesport, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin, Woodland Hills

Section 4: Hampton, Highlands, Indiana, Kiski Area, Knoch, North Catholic

Class 3A (27 teams)

Section 1: Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Mohawk, Neshannock, Quaker Valley, Riverside, Shenango

Section 2: Avonworth, Keystone Oaks, South Allegheny, South Park, Steel Valley, Sto-Rox

Section 3: Burrell, Deer Lakes, Derry, East Allegheny, Freeport, Shady Side Academy, Valley

Section 4: Brownsville, Greensburg Salem, McGuffey, Mt. Pleasant, Southmoreland, Waynesburg Central, Yough

Class 2A (22 teams)

Section 1: Bentworth, Beth-Center, Burgettstown, Chartiers-Houston, Charleroi, Frazier, Washington

Section 2: Aliquippa, Freedom, Laurel, New Brighton, Northgate, OLSH, South Side, Seton LaSalle

Section 3: Apollo-Ridge, Brentwood, Greensburg C.C., Jeannette, Ligonier Valley, Riverview, Serra Catholic

Class A (21 teams)

Section 1: Avella, California, Carmichaels, Fort Cherry, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene

Section 2: Leechburg, Rochester, Springdale, St. Joseph, Summit Academy, Union, Western Beaver

Section 3: Bishop Canevin, Carlynton, Clairton, Cornell, Eden Christian, Monessen, Sewickley Academy

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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