Westmoreland County WPIAL softball playoff preview capsules for May 19, 2022

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022 | 5:15 PM


WPIAL softball playoffs

Capsule previews

Class 5A

Quarterfinals

10-Shaler (16-3) vs. 2-Penn-Trafford (16-2)

5 p.m. Thursday at Plum

Winner plays: Winner of 11-Chartiers Valley (14-4) vs. 3-Trinity (16-2) on Tuesday in the semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Mallor Moran, Shaler; Kylee Picconi, Penn-Trafford

Extra bases: Shaler was a third-place team in a tough Section 2 that was won by No. 4 seed North Hills. The Titans downed Franklin Regional, 14-6, in the first round as Cam Murphy homered and drove in four runs. Bethany Rodman also homered and had three RBIs, while Moran tripled and drove in three. Shaler has eight straight wins and has not lost in May (6-0). … Penn-Trafford run-ruled Plum in the opener, 10-0, thanks to a 14-hit attack. Picconi went 3 for 4 with a home run, Madison Rapp added two hits and four RBIs, and Cam Ponko tripled. Alex Forsythe, a late pinch-hitter, also homered for the Warriors, who lost in the quarterfinals last year to North Hills, 7-1. Almost quietly, pitcher Mia Smith struck out 11 and allowed just two hits.

12-Latrobe (10-4) vs. 4-North Hills (15-3)

5 p.m. Thursday at Fox Chapel

Winner plays: Winner of 8-Thomas Jefferson (11-7) vs. 1-Armstrong (17-4) on Tuesday in the semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Josie Straigis, Latrobe; Kassidy Wittig, North Hills

Extra bases: Latrobe pulled an upset with a 10-9 win over West Allegheny in eight innings. Straigis hit a grand slam, and Jenna Tallman went 3 for 5 with a homer and two RBIs. Latrobe led 5-2 before the Indians rallied to force extras. Latrobe outscored them in the eighth, 5-4. Bailey Watson added two hits. The Wildcats lost in the first round last year to Indiana, 7-6. They last played in the semifinals in 2018. … North Hills, the defending WPIAL champion, opened with a 7-3 victory over Upper St. Clair. Maria Chutko is another player to watch for the Indians. Sophia Roncone is a proven winner in the circle. She struck out 116 in the regular season. Last year, the Indians beat Armstrong in the final, 12-2, but lost to the River Hawks in a rematch in the PIAA semifinals, 7-4. Roncone, a Holy Cross commit, is hitting over .300 after not batting once last year.

Class 3A

Quarterfinals

8-Mt. Pleasant (10-9) vs. 1-Avonworth (14-5)

3 p.m. Thursday at Plum

Winner plays: Winner of 5-Southmoreland (12-3) vs. 4-Ellwood City (11-3) on Tuesday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Katie Hutter, Mt. Pleasant; Leah Kuban, Avonworth

Extra bases: Mt. Pleasant, the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion, clubbed North Catholic in the first round, 16-2, in five innings. The Vikings scored nine times in the second inning and led 13-2 after three. Sophia Smithnosky, the sister of last year’s playoff ace, Mary Smithnosky, struck out eight, earned the win and went 3 for 4 with a double, triple and two RBIs. Hutter homered and drove in three, while Addison Reese and Abby Swank had two RBIs each. … Section 2 champion Avonworth had a first-round bye and is lacking momentum after losing three straight to end the regular season (4-2 to Seton LaSalle, 2-1 to Belle Vernon and 16-5 to North Hills). The Antelopes also own a 10-0 win over Greensburg Central Catholic, the third seed in Class A. They made the semifinals last season and lost to Mt. Pleasant, 8-0. They then defeated Southmoreland, 3-2, in the third-place game before going 1-1 in the PIAA bracket. Kuban, Layne Shinsky, Meghan Fissore are offensive threats.

5-Southmoreland (12-3) vs. 4-Ellwood City (11-3)

6 p.m. Thursday at North Allegheny

Winner plays: Winner of 8-Mt. Pleasant (10-9) vs. 1-Avonworth (14-5) on Tuesday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Tyson Martin, Southmoreland; Julia Nardone, Ellwood City

Extra bases: Southmoreland held off No. 12 Derry for a 5-4 win as freshman Makayla Etling delivered a walk-off single in the seventh. Etling leads the team with a .500 average. The Scotties have won four straight following a 6-2 loss to Mt. Pleasant. Madison Brown was sharp in the circle in the first round, allowing just two hits while striking out seven and walking four. Southmoreland’s playoff run ended in the semifinals last year with a 4-2 loss to Ellwood City at Penn-Trafford. The Scotties were then tripped up by Avonworth in the PIAA play-in game, 4-2. … The returning WPIAL runner-up, Ellwood City used a four-run fifth inning to brush past Beaver Falls, 6-2, in the first round. Nardone was the winning pitcher as she allowed two hits and struck out seven. She also drove in two runs. Mollie Street also had two RBIs. Ellwood City produced 10 or more runs eight times. They lost their final regular-season game to Neshannock, 13-3. They were swept by Avonworth in Section 2 play, 7-3 and 8-2. The Wolverines lost to Mt. Pleasant in the WPIAL final last year, 15-0.

Class A

Quarterfinals

6-Leechburg (9-5) vs. 3-Greensburg Central Catholic (11-5)

4 p.m. Thursday at North Allegheny

Winner plays: Winner of 7-Jefferson-Morgan (7-7) vs. 2-Union (17-3) on Tuesday in semifinals

Players to watch: Bella Vozar, Leechburg; Emma Henry, GCC

Extra bases: Leechburg, a perennial playoff team and three-time WPIAL champion, overwhelmed Rochester in the first round, 19-0, in three innings. The Blue Devils erupted for 15 runs in the second inning. Pitcher Anna Cibik did not allow a hit and struck out seven. Vozar drove in five runs, while Grace Richards and Fayln Verner had three RBIs each. Nine doubles and a triple kept the base paths moving. Leechburg lost to Union in the semifinals last year, 7-2, before advancing to the PIAA tournament. … Greensburg Central Catholic was awarded the No. 3 seed and a bye after finishing second in Section 2 behind No. 1 seed and three-time defending champion West Greene. There was a sizable gap in the standings after those two teams. GCC won five of its final seven games, four of them via shutout. Henry is a dual-threat as a pitcher and hitter.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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