Westmoreland County baseball notebook: Southmoreland takes giant leap into playoffs

Thursday, May 5, 2022 | 9:01 AM

Senior shortstop/pitcher Anthony Govern said this season was “playoffs or bust” for Southmoreland.

He didn’t flinch when he said it.

The Scotties have lived up to their long-time-coming goal of reaching the postseason, qualifying for the first time since 2008.

The team was 6-6 overall and 5-5 in Section 4-3A after a pair of losses to Yough.

While coach Al Govern clearly was displeased with his team losing three in a row, he is seeing progress in his program.

“It’s like with football. This is a culture change,” Al Govern said. “Five, six years ago, if you had asked someone if Southmoreland baseball would be this close to a section title, they would have laughed. We’re not the laughingstock any more. The kids have bought in.”

Playoff teams

The playoff picture is set in Westmoreland County. Qualifiers are Hempfield in Class 6A; Norwin in 5A; Latrobe, Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional in 4A; Derry, Mt. Pleasant, Yough and Southmoreland in 2A; and Greensburg Central Catholic in A.

Latrobe and Yough are section champions.

Playoff pairings are expected to come out next Friday.

The WPIAL postseason could start May 16 around the district.

Late-game heroics

Franklin Regional flashed some of the late-game form that earned it a WPIAL championship last season when it rallied to edge Kiski Area in a marathon Section 1-5A game Tuesday.

Kiski Area rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie it 11-11 and take the Panthers to extra innings.

Despite the Cavaliers loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, pitcher Kyle Morgan and the defense worked out of the jam and Jordan Suvak blasted a two-run homer in the ninth as the Panthers won 13-11.

“Kiski Area did a great job battling back,” Panthers coach Bobby Saddler said. “It would have been very easy for our boys to be deflated after that, but they were resilient and we were able to prevail.”

Caden Smith had five hits — two doubles, two triples and a single — for Franklin Regional, which ran its winning streak to five.

The possibility existed earlier in the week for all six teams in Section 1-5A to make the playoffs.

Pulling rank

Norwin is back in the TribLive HSSN WPIAL Class 6A rankings, going from unranked to No. 4 this week.

Latrobe was No. 5 in 5A, and Derry was No. 5 in 3A.

Record collection

Class 6A does not appear to have an overwhelming favorite to win the WPIAL championship.

Team records speak to the parity: All 12 teams in the class have at least four losses.

Through Monday’s games, six had winning records, one stood at .500 and five had losing marks.

Norwin was 8-6, Hempfield 6-10.

Seneca Valley had the most wins (11), but the Raiders were 4-4 and tied for fourth in Section 1.

Word of mouth

“We’re developing all three phases of the game. We’re playing defense and pitching, and now we’re beginning to get timely hits.” — Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller on his team playing well at the right time.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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