Westmoreland County softball notebook: Top-5 seeds at stake when WPIAL brackets are released

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 12:25 PM

The WPIAL is scheduled to release playoff brackets at 4 p.m. Thursday virtually via the TribLive High School Sports Network.

The rundown of local teams in the postseason looks like this: Hempfield (12-2) and Norwin (4-8) in Class 6A; Franklin Regional (13-5), Kiski Area (12-5), Penn-Trafford (13-2) and Latrobe (7-4) in 5A; Yough (12-2), Burrell (10-1) and Belle Vernon (10-7) in 4A; Valley (4-5), Derry (2-9), Southmoreland (10-3) and Mt. Pleasant (8-8) in 3A; Ligonier Valley (13-3) in 2A; and Greensburg Central Catholic (11-4) in A.

Hempfield, Penn-Trafford, Burrell and Ligonier Valley are section champions and are in line to get top-five seeds. Franklin Regional, Yough and Southmoreland were second-place teams.

Hempfield has not received anything higher than a No. 3 seed since 2013 when it missed the postseason.

Games will be played at neutral sites, and the WPIAL finals will be June 1-2 at Cal (Pa.).

Westmoreland County has produced a WPIAL softball champion in six consecutive years (there was no season in 2020).

Tuneup extraordinaire

Hempfield and Penn-Trafford could not have asked for a better postseason tuneup than when the teams played each other Tuesday at Kalp Field.

Hempfield edged the Warriors, 6-5, in 10 innings, with Sydney Mitchell recording the winning RBI on a bases-loaded walk against ace pitcher Mia Smith.

Maggie Howard had three hits, Allie Cervola doubled twice and Olivia Kline drove in three runs for Hempfield. Pitcher Riley Miller struck out nine.

McKenzie Rapp went 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs, Bri Pusateri was 3 for 5 and Mack Keenan also had three hits and two RBIs.

Both pitchers got a workout in complete-game efforts. Smith, who had 13 strikeouts, threw 190 pitches, and Miller 156.

Hempfield and Penn-Trafford both could end up with No. 1 seeds (6A and 5A) in the playoffs.

Extra points

Mt. Pleasant’s scores this season have looked more like their football team’s: Losses of 14-13, 14-11 (twice), and wins of 16-3 and 24-7.

But the defending WPIAL 3A champion Vikings are taking the results in stride.

After all, they are headed back to the postseason.

As long as they score more than the other team, good things will happen.

“We have been working on some things and moving some pieces around,” coach Chris Brunson said. “We know we have to tighten some things up going into the playoffs, and we’ll do that.”

Close calls

Belle Vernon pitcher Talia Ross has been putting up some impressive numbers but has been part of some tough-luck losses.

While she struck out a career-high 17 in a win over Laurel Highlands, 14 in a win over Charleroi, and 13 when the Leopards defeated Uniontown, she took a 4-2 loss to Yough despite 12 strikeouts.

She also lost a 7-6 decision to Mt. Lebanon, and Belle Vernon lost 9-6 to Elizabeth Forward and 8-7 to Yough.

Going, going, gone

Yough coach Art “Dutch” Harvey pointed out recently that his team has more home-run pop than just about any group that came before it in the program.

The Cougars showed their power a few of days later, sending five homers over the fence in a 15-1 win over Uniontown, giving the team 17 homers for the season in 12 games.

Emma Augustine, who had never homered before this season, hit two out in the win, and Adoria Waldier, Kaylin Ritenour and Makayla Spoonhoward homered one time apiece.

PIAA playoffs

The brackets are out for the 2022 state playoffs.

The first round will be June 6. The championships will be as follows at Penn State: 6A: 4 p.m. June 16; 5A: 4 p.m. June 17; 4A: 1:30 p.m. June 16; 3A: 1:30 p.m. June 17; 2A: 11 a.m. June 16; A: 11 a.m. June 17.

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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