North Allegheny celebrates 4th WPISL championship

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Saturday, October 31, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Players and coaches sprinted from the dugouts, swarming teammates on the field in celebration.

There were hugs and tears of joy all around.

The North Allegheny slow-pitch softball team had just captured its first Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Softball League title since 2011, defeating rival Seneca Valley, 21-10, to commence a celebration rivaling that of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ World Series championship.

“It was just crazy,” NA coach Dave Metzger said.

“From the beginning of practices in August, the team set themselves a goal of winning the WPISL championship, and they never wavered from the goal, even when they struggled towards the end of the season.”

It was the Tigers’ fourth WPISL title since the league formed in 2006.

North Allegheny entered the slow-pitch softball playoffs as the No. 5 seed after finishing 9-5 in the regular season, including five losses in their final seven games.

The Tigers defeated Ellwood City (19-4), No. 4 North Hills (6-5) and No. 1 Montour (9-6) en route to the Oct. 25 championship game.

In the finals, the NA bats came alive.

Junior outfielder Evelyn Wiethorn was 5 for 5 with four runs and an RBI. Senior shortstop Lizzie Wetmore was 4 for 5 with four runs and five RBIs, and senior outfielder Madi Klinefelter was 2 for 5 with a home run, two runs and four RBIs.

NA scored three times in the top of the first inning and had big innings in the third, fifth and seventh to seal the win.

Metzger credited the outfielders’ defense for making key plays against Seneca Valley’s hard-hitting offensive attack.

“Our outfielders were ridiculously good in the finals, stealing multiple hits with incredible running catches, or preventing extra bases on hits with perfectly executed relay throws,” he said.

Junior pitcher Emily Yanchak threw 75% of her pitches for strikes and, working with junior catcher Sydney Besket, had two strikeouts in the finals.

“She was effective in all four (playoff) games moving the ball up and down, in and out, and short and deep, keeping the hitters off-balance,” Metzger said.

Throughout the season, the team was led by a group of five seniors — first basemen Katie Marangoni and Claire Medic, left fielder Carly Snyder, Wetmore and Klinefelter.

Klinefelter and junior second baseman Megan Quinlan were the team’s emotional leaders, Metzger said.

Wetmore was the offensive leader, providing key home runs against Plum and Montour. Junior Audrey Laswell’s walk-off grand slam against Plum also was among season highlights.

Juniors Nikki Crean and Evelyn Wiethorn also had key hits during the playoff tournament.

Metzger cited the contributions from several junior varsity call-ups during the playoff tournament.

“They were a close-knit group,” Metzger said. “They’ve been together for a bunch of years in rec ball and school ball. It was fun to watch them reach their goal. It was pure joy.”

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

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