Softball seniors get 1 last hurrah with WPA all-star game

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Monday, June 10, 2024 | 9:02 PM


Brookelyn Kotch, Josey Michalski, and Bailey Snowberger were the only three seniors on a rather young Norwin softball team that upended No. 1 Hempfield in the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals before suffering a 4-3 extra-inning heartbreaker to No. 2 Seneca Valley in the title game.

The Knights’ season came to a end that day, but the senior trio will have one more opportunity to play together in Norwin uniforms.

Kotch, Michalski, and Snowberger will be teammates on Team Gold on June 18 for the inaugural Western PA Softball All-Star Game at 6 p.m. at Plum High School.

“We were able to get a lot of great players from all over the WPIAL and from each classification,” said Plum coach Phil DiLonardo, who formed the all-star game committee with Avonworth coach Jenna Muncie, Shaler coach Tom Sorce and Franklin Regional coach Jim Armstrong.

A total of 45 seniors, many of whom will continue their softball careers in college, will be on the two rosters.

“This is pretty awesome. Hopefully, the girls enjoy it,” Armstrong said.

“Honestly, I wasn’t sure how many would want to do it because school is over, and there are so many things to do during the summer. There are vacations, travel seasons and stuff like that. But we had 74 express interest in wanting to be a part of it. It was a great response. It also made for some tough decisions in selecting the teams.”

DiLonardo said he hopes the rosters are well balanced and will translate to a competitive game.

“It was more from a position standpoint,” DiLonardo said regarding how the teams took shape.

“We didn’t want to just grab someone and throw them into a position and have them play somewhere they weren’t used to. We want them to come and play in the position they had been playing. For example, we didn’t want to have 12 shortstops on a team just because they were the best hitters and have some of them playing in the outfield.

“There’s a position like first base where only one player was named, but 90 percent of the pitchers also play first base, and it is their first secondary position. We’re going to try to swap in the pitchers so they don’t pitch one inning and sit for the rest of the night.”

DiLonardo said the game will be nine or 10 innings.

A blast email was sent out to all the WPIAL schools in late February, and DiLonardo said the teams were selected based on responses and nominations received.

The high school softball season ends Thursday and Friday with the PIAA championship games at Penn State.

It’s guaranteed the WPIAL will have a team in the Class 2A final Friday at 11 a.m. at Nittany Lion Softball Park as section rivals Neshannock and Laurel battled Monday in a semifinal clash.

When it comes time for the all-star game, Laurel’s Autumn Boyd and Alexis Brua and Neshannock’s Ali Giordano will be together on Team Black and will oppose Neshannock catcher Gabrielle Perod on Team Gold.

The Alle-Kiski Valley will be represented by Freeport’s Sydney Selker and Abby DeJidas, Kiski Area’s Trinity Seibel and Highlands’ Jocelyn Scardina on Team Gold and Fox Chapel’s Mia Dunleavy on Team Black.

In addition to the Norwin trio, Westmoreland players on Team Gold are Latrobe’s Kayla Williams, Belle Vernon’s Gracie Sokol and Mt. Pleasant’s Emma Scanlon. Team Black will have Southmoreland’s Madison Brown and Amarah McCutcheon, Greensburg Central Catholic’s Grace Kindel and Yough’s Makayla Spoonhoward.

Plum graduate and Mustangs varsity assistant Julie DiLonardo will serve as a manager for one of the teams, and Norwin assistant Ally (Vrcek) DeMonte, a Franklin Regional grad, will head up the other team.

“Julie and Ally played against each other in college,” Phil DiLonardo said of the Presidents Athletic Conference matchups between DiLonardo at Geneva and Vrcek at St. Vincent.

DiLonardo said he and his fellow coaching committee members wanted to fashion this softball all-star game after the Cager Classic games played at Highlands after each basketball season. Plum athletic director Drew Karpen, the former AD at Highlands through the 2022-23 school year, reached out to Cager officials for advice.

“Drew saw what has made the Cager Classic so successful for more than 25 years,” DiLonardo said. “He’s familiar with what we are trying to accomplish. Hopefully, this turns out to be something similar to that and we can expand it to more games.”

DiLonardo said the goal of the game is to give the seniors playing one last hurrah in a high school game.

“We actually requested that they wear their high school uniforms,” he said. “I always like that about how they used to do that with the Major League Baseball all-star game before they switched to the common uniforms for each team. We’re going to go old school like that for this game.”

Western Pennsylvania Softball All-Star Game

June 18, 2024

6 p.m.

Plum High School

Rosters

Team Black

Pitchers: Madison Baker, Armstrong; Alivia Lantzy, Avonworth; Shelby Telegdy, Elizabeth Forward; Makenzie Wade, Bethel Park; Madison Brown, Southmoreland; Autumn Boyd, Laurel

Catchers: Alexis Brua, Laurel; Rylee Gray, Avonworth; Lauren Sipple, Penn Hills

First base: Jessie Pugh, Armstrong

Second base: Stephanie Esswein, Mars; Ali Giordano, Neshannock

Third base: Mia Dunleavy, Fox Chapel; Bella Mubel, Shaler

Shortstop: Emma Paul, Armstrong; Shaye Bailey, Freedom; Amarah McCutcheon, Southmoreland

Outfield: Grace Kindel, Greensburg Central Catholic; Autumn Weitzel, Chartiers Valley; Jazalyn Sanders, Woodland Hills; Belinda Bova; Bethel Park; Mykayla Spoonhoward, Yough; London Irish, Penn Hills

Team Gold

Pitchers: Brookelyn Kotch, Norwin; Olivia Zimmerman, Indiana; Kayla Williams, Latrobe; Madisyn Zigarovich; Serra Catholic; Kelsey Ogin, Butler; Sydney Selker, Freeport.

Catchers: Haley Hamilton, Indiana; Gabrielle Perod, Neshannock; Morgan Mosqueda, South Allegheny

First base: Gracie Sokol, Belle Vernon

Second base: Caitlyn O’Farrell, Chartiers Valley

Third base: Josey Michalski, Norwin; Marta Gualazzi, Chartiers Valley

Shortstop: Aricka Young, Mohawk; Abby Dejidas, Freeport; Bailey Snowberger, Norwin

Outfield: Savannah Bodnar, North Hills; Trinity Seibel, Kiski Area; Emma Scanlon, Mt. Pleasant; Jocelyn Scardina, Highlands; Shaylyn Shall, Western Beaver; Mya McGreal, Mohawk

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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