H.S. notebook: Baseball, softball sections get new look next spring
Sunday, May 24, 2020 | 4:42 PM
WPIAL baseball and softball will take on a different look next spring.
The league realigned its sections for the 2020-21 season, and a number of Westmoreland teams will move to new classifications and sections.
Three area baseball teams — Penn-Trafford, Derry and Mt. Pleasant — are dropping one classification.
Penn-Trafford goes from Class 6A to 5A and joins Section 1 with Franklin Regional, Gateway, Kiski Area, Latrobe and McKeesport.
“To us, it is a lateral move and not a notch down,” Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller said. “The competition is strong at the 5A (level), and Section 1 has formidable opponents from top to bottom that will present some good games and create some new rivalries down the road.”
All of Penn-Trafford’s games were on the road last season because its field is undergoing renovations, which includes a turf infield. The project is ongoing.
The team is eager to get on the new surface, but that could be a while.
“We look forward to opening our new turf field with a group of men that will proudly look to carry the winning tradition that was set before them,” Miller said.
Derry and Mt. Pleasant have joined 3A and will play in Section 3 with Deer Lakes, East Allegheny, newcomer Ligonier Valley and Valley.
Mt. Pleasant, meanwhile, is the biggest mover in softball. The perennially strong Vikings drop from 4A to 3A and will play alongside Brownsville, McGuffey, South Allegheny, Southmoreland and Waynesburg in Section 3.
“The pros and cons (of moving) revolve around the same issue,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Brunson said, “familiarity with your opponents. Sometimes it’s good to know your opponent, and sometimes it’s not. When you know the opponent, sometimes you overthink it instead of just playing to your strengths and not the other team’s weaknesses. There are good teams in all of the divisions. It won’t be any easier dropping down.”
Baseball will have four sections in 5A, 3A and 2A. Class 6A has 12 teams instead of 19.
Softball moves to four sections in 5A, and 6A goes from 16 teams to 11.
Ligonier Valley softball will play in Class 2A.
See you tomorrow
One unique change in baseball next year will have section teams playing a two-game, home-and-home “series” on consecutive days.
This will prevent teams from throwing their No. 1 pitcher against the same opponent while forcing coaches to get creative with their pitchers, who still will be subject to pitch counts.
This change will not apply to softball.
More playoff teams
An additional qualifier will advance to the WPIAL basketball playoffs next year in sections with eight teams.
The majority of the WPIAL will have seven-team sections. The postseason modification applies to three sections: boys Section 2-4A — Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell, Lincoln Park, Montour, Quaker Valley; girls Section 1-6A — Butler, North Allegheny, North Hills, Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Shaler; and girls Section 2-4A — Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell, Montour, New Castle, Quaker Valley.
Hempfield junior Maura Uschock has committed to play volleyball at Division II Bloomsburg. Uschock is a 5-foot-6 outside hitter. The plan is for her to room with Callie Sowers, another Hempfield junior and a softball pitcher who will continue her playing career at Bloomsburg.
• Brad Ford, a junior football player at Penn-Trafford, picked up a scholarship offer from Lake Erie, a Division II program that competes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Ford was a backup running back last season but saw his playing time increase when Caleb Lisbon and Sam Fanelli were injured against McKeesport and missed most of the season. Ford also showed ability at cornerback.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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