Latrobe in lofty spot as Westmoreland County softball squads earn top WPIAL seeds

By:
Thursday, May 13, 2021 | 8:30 PM


Even though it seemed like it at first glance, there was no clerical error or mix-up on the right side of the WPIAL Class 5A softball playoff bracket when it met public eyes Thursday.

Latrobe, the No. 2 seed?

It even surprised Latrobe’s coach.

Bob Kovalcin was slightly taken aback when he heard about the Wildcats’ lofty spot in the tournament. Happy, but surprised.

“I really thought we’d be a 5 or 6,” Kovalcin said. “I had West Allegheny at 2. I guess it’s because we played Penn-Trafford so well. I am surprised, yes.”

Latrobe (9-4), which lost to Thomas Jefferson on Thursday in the Section 2 finale — a result that obviously was not taken into consideration by the WPIAL committee — overcame a key injury to senior pitcher Jordan Tallman to finish a game behind Penn-Trafford in the standings.

“P-T is the section champ,” Kovalcin said. “We didn’t split it. They’re first and we’re second.”

“Latrobe belongs there,” said Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little, whose potent Warriors (14-4) earned the No. 1 seed in 5A two years after winning a PIAA championship. “I’m not surprised at all by that. I see why (the WPIAL) did it.”

Latrobe will open against Indiana (10-7) at Valley, while Penn-Trafford plays Hampton (7-8) at Gateway. Both games are 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’re going to prepare the same as if we’re the No. 1 or No. 16 seed,” Little said. “We’re only worried about ourselves and how we prepare.”

Three-time defending 5A champion West Allegheny (12-3) plummeted to No. 6. The odd draw speaks to the competition in the class.

Plum (11-3) is No. 3, Shaler (11-4) is 4, and Chartiers Valley (11-7) is 5, which means Latrobe is seeded better than three first-place teams.

“You had better be ready to play,” Kovalcin said. “We’re not taking Indiana lightly, I can tell you that. You have to play your best.”

It looks like another banner year brewing for Westmoreland County softball. Two other local teams also picked up No. 1 seeds.

Big bat-toting Mt. Pleasant (14-3) is the favorite in 3A, and Ligonier Valley (16-1), pleasantly dominant in its first WPIAL season, is No. 1 in 2A.

Mt. Pleasant has a first-round bye, while Ligonier Valley will play the winner of a preliminary game between Bentworth (5-11) and California (5-13) 2 p.m. Wednesday at Gateway.

The winner faces the winner between 8-Charleroi (11-7) and 9-Neshannock (8-5).

“I think our section might have an advantage because of its depth,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Brunson said. “There are so many good-hitting teams, and you can tell by all of the high-scoring games.”

Section 3 appears to be the best in the classification and the seeds are proof. Waynesburg is No. 3, South Allegheny 5 and Southmoreland 7.

Southmoreland (9-4), taxed with doubleheaders on two consecutive days this week to squeeze in games, has a tough opener at 4 p.m. Tuesday against No. 10 Keystone Oaks (10-5) at West Mifflin.

Ligonier Valley, spurred by junior pitcher Maddie Griffin’s nine no-hitters, is primed for a playoff run.

“We figured we’d be in the top two,” Rams coach Mark Zimmerman said. “We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and trust the formula.”

In a condensed, eight-team 6A bracket, Norwin (13-2) is the No. 2 seed and will face No. 7 and postseason rival North Allegheny (8-9) in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Gateway.

Hempfield (12-5), the winner of five straight WPIAL titles in the largest class, is No. 3 and opens against No. 6 Canon-McMillan (7-9) at 4 p.m. Wednesday at West Mifflin.

Norwin and Hempfield could meet for a third time, in the semifinals.

Other local first-round matchups:

5A: 11-Franklin Regional (9-6) vs. 6-West Allegheny (12-3), 2 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny.

4A: 7-Yough (10-4) vs. 10-Freeport (9-6), 3 p.m. Wednesday at Norwin; 6-Burrell (7-5) vs. 11-Belle Vernon (10-9), 2 p.m. Wednesday at Plum.

3A: 9-Derry (6-6) vs. 8-South Park (8-6), 2 p.m. Tuesday at Norwin.

A: 6-Greensburg Central Catholic (10-4) vs. 11-Ellis School (4-5), 2 p.m. Tuesday at Fox Chapel.

The other top seeds are Bethel Park (15-0) in 6A, Elizabeth Forward (15-2) in 4A, and West Greene (14-2) in A.

The WPIAL finals will be June 2-3 at Cal U’s Lilley Field.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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

More High School Softball

Strong finish carries Plum to slow-pitch softball finals
Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Softball League playoff tournament matchups set
Hempfield Area School Board hires Madison to replace Kalp as softball coach
Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Softball League regular season concludes Sunday with 4 doubleheaders
Former pitcher expected to be next Hempfield softball coach

click me