Led by lineup loaded with Division I recruits, Bethel Park off to strong start in Class 6A

Friday, April 23, 2021 | 8:37 AM

The Bethel Park softball team is one of the favorites this year to reach the WPIAL Class 6A championship game.

The Black Hawks were ranked No. 2 in their division in the Trib HSSN preseason rankings and have since moved up to No. 1.

And through five games, the Black Hawks did nothing to tarnish that lofty status, convincingly defeating the likes of Shaler, Oakland Catholic, North Allegheny, Chartiers Valley and Mt. Lebanon by a scoring advantage of 55-7.

After opening the season March 26 at home with a 7-2 win over Shaler, the Black Hawks played their next four games on the road.

No problem.

Bethel Park won its Section 1-6A opener April 9 against Mt. Lebanon, 15-0.

“My expectation prior to the start of the season was for us to be competitive in a very tough section,” coach Heather Semplice-Scott said. “Right now we are playing very well. This is a very close-knit group of girls that supports each other both on and off the field.

“Just like everyone else, not playing in 2020 was tough to take. These girls love the game and were devastated. Plus, the girls lost a year of playing high school ball together, which effects game maturity and being with their teammates.”

The Black Hawks are led by senior infielder Reagan Miliken, an Ohio State recruit, senior pitcher Delaney Nagy (UConn), senior outfielders Lauren Caye (Seton Hall) and Gianna Sciullo (Georgetown), and junior catcher Sandra Soltes (Pitt).

Miliken and Sciullo were first-team all-section selections as sophomores. Soltes was an honorable mention selection.

Ali Sniegocki, a junior outfielder, also has returned after earning second-team all-section honors.

The early-season lineup includes Caye (OF), Sciullo (INF), Miliken (INF), Nagy (P), senior Sami Stephenson (INF), junior Delaney Sierka (INF), Soltes (C), junior Abby Quickel (OF) and Sniegocki (OF).

Reserves include seniors Riley McCann (P) and Lexi Seese (OF), along with freshmen prospects Alayna Owen (P/OF), Savana Knauff (UTL) and Belinda Bova (OF).

Every batter in the Bethel Park lineup reached safely and scored a run in the four-inning mercy-rule win at Mt. Lebanon. Milliken, Sciullo and Knauff recorded two hits apiece.

Nagy threw a one-hitter and struck out five in four innings.

Bethel Park started 10-0 in 2019 and ended up sharing the section title with Baldwin and Canon-McMillan while finishing 13-4 overall.

Thanks to PIAA realignment, Class 6A in softball is smaller this season. Allderdice, Brashear, Fox Chapel, North Hills and Upper St. Clair dropped to 5A, leaving 11 teams spread over two sections.

Semplice-Scott is in her 12th season as Bethel Park’s coach. Before that, she served as an assistant under Jay Kreigline at Bethel Park.

“Before I came over to Bethel Park, I coached at Chartiers Valley and South Park,” Semplice-Scott said. “At South Park, I also was an assistant coach in basketball when we won the 1998 WPIAL championship.”

Semplice-Scott, who started the middle school softball program for South Park, played scholastically as a shortstop at McClicktock High School in Arizona prior to moving and graduating from Keystone Oaks. She then continued her career as an outfielder at Edinboro.

Her assistants are her daughter, Gēana (Gee) Scott, Donna Decarlo and Carly Schoenstein, who is Decarlo’s daughter.

“I am truly blessed to have them as my assistants and be able to coach a team of hard-working, determined young ladies,” Semplice-Scott said.

Bethel Park has qualified for the WPIAL playoffs six years in a row and shared two section championships during that span.

The Black Hawks are members of Section 1 this season along with Baldwin, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon and Peters Township.


More High School Softball

Trib 10: Baseball power rankings shaken up despite poor week of weather
Leechburg softball team proud to uphold playoff streak
Westmoreland County softball notebook: Southmoreland captures elusive section title
Close games sharpen Greensburg Central Catholic softball for battles ahead
Trib HSSN softball player of the week for May 1, 2023