Red-hot Valley learns playoff seed, gets ready for ‘whole new season’

Friday, May 10, 2024 | 4:35 PM

Boasting an 11-game winning streak, the Valley baseball team certainly is rolling at the right time.

A team filled with experienced upperclassmen, the Vikings won their first section title since 2018 and now will look to make their mark in the postseason.

The Vikings were awarded the No. 5 seed in the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs and play No. 12 Shenango in the first round at 7 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny.

“We worked hard to get here,” Valley coach Jim Basilone said. “I told the boys, if you work hard, you get rewarded for it. A lot of people thought we should’ve been seeded third, but that doesn’t concern me. I’m not upset with it, and the reason I’m not upset with it is because you play the game on the field. Those seedings are just numbers. It’s a whole new season.”

Valley (16-4) has not lost since dropping a two-game series against Freeport on April 15 and 16. The Vikings swept defending section champ East Allegheny and have nonsection wins against playoff teams Riverview, Greensburg Salem, Serra Catholic and Jeannette during their 11-game winning streak.

“We had a little locker room talk and let the boys understand that it’s important for them to play the game and follow our directives on what we do and how we go about doing it, and they’ve been doing it well,” Basilone said. “It’s turned around completely.”

Burrell is also in the Class 3A field after finishing in a tie for second in Section 1. The Bucs were seeded 14th and play No. 3 Mt. Pleasant at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Gateway.

One of the biggest conundrums the WPIAL committee faced was how to seed the teams from Section 1-5A, where Plum, Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional and Penn-Trafford finished in a four-way tie for first place.

Fox Chapel ended up being the big winner as the Foxes were awarded the No. 2 seed and the corresponding bye. Plum was seeded fifth, Franklin Regional sixth and Penn-Trafford seventh.

The Foxes were the only team of the four to split with the other three section champs.

“It feels really good,” Foxes coach Jim Hastings said. “I think they rewarded us for having a good year, one of the best we’ve had in program history. I was a little surprised we got the two, but if you look at it, we were the only team to beat each one of the other three, and I think we got that high of a seed because of how difficult our section is.”

Fox Chapel won’t play until May 20 against the winner of Penn-Trafford and Moon.

Plum plays No. 12 Trinity at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Gateway. It’s a rematch of a first-round game last year, which Plum won 6-3.

“I’m sure the committee had a brutal time figuring out the seeding, and as far as where we landed, I’m comfortable,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. “Our section being as difficult as it was helped us all out, but our nonsection schedule was challenging, and I think that they took that into consideration, which allowed us to land at five. But any of us (in the section) could’ve been shifted around.”

In Class 4A, Kiski Area is seeded 10th and matches up with No. 7 Chartiers Valley in the first round at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at North Allegheny. Knoch swept Hampton last week to clinch a playoff spot and got the No. 14 seed. The Knights face No. 3 West Mifflin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Plum.

Riverview is the No. 7 seed in Class 2A. The Raiders meet No. 10 Beth-Center in the first round at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Gateway.

Leechburg received the No. 10 seed in Class A and will face No.7 West Greene at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Peterswood Park. The Blue Devils are in the postseason for the sixth consecutive season.

Springdale is in the playoffs for the first time since 2017. The Dynamos are the 11th seed and play No. 6 Avella at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Boyce-Mayview Park.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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