Westmoreland notebook: Baseball, softball teams reap benefits of extra classifications
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Saturday, May 18, 2019 | 6:17 PM
When the WPIAL went to six classifications three years ago, the idea was to create parity and give more teams a chance to play for championships.
The move has forged the first time-since era.
It happened in football and basketball, and it’s happening in baseball and softball. Teams are thumbing through old record books to find out when was the last time they made it this far in the postseason.
High-water marks are being met or passed.
Local teams have taken advantage of more-level playing fields. Jeannette saw it happen in baseball two years ago. Derry football followed last season, and Southmoreland softball got its chance last spring. The Jayhawks and Scotties won WPIAL titles. The Trojans played for a district championship.
This year, a number of Westmoreland teams remembered what it was like to win section titles. Now, some are moving on in the playoffs. It’s been awhile.
• Yough baseball posted its first playoff win since 2013 — the Cougars had not won in the first round in 16 years — with a 4-3 victory over Central Valley. Yough is the No. 2 seed in Class 4A.
• Jeannette softball won its first postseason game since 2014 and moved into the Class A quarterfinals with a 7-3 win over Ambridge.
• Greensburg Salem softball won for the first time in the playoffs since 2014 when it downed Ambridge, 10-3.
• Norwin softball is headed to the semifinals for the second straight year after winning just one playoff game in two decades.
• Franklin Regional, the No. 2 seed in Class 5A baseball, won its first section title since 2006, and Penn-Trafford captured its first section since ‘07.
• Greensburg Salem baseball hadn’t celebrated a section title in seven years. The Golden Lions split with Yough.
• While a member of District 6, Ligonier Valley baseball won its first Heritage Conference title since 2012.
Norwin coach search
Norwin is expected to end speculation about who will be its next boys basketball coach by voting on a new hire at Monday’s board meeting.
Lynn Washowich resigned in April after guiding the Knights for 17 years.
Norwin routinely has drawn dozens of players to its “Norwin Football Lineman Challenge,” which is why the event will return for a fifth year.
The challenge is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Norwin Knights Stadium.
Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said 11 teams are signed up to attend — about 130 linemen in all, who will compete in various drills. Pittsburgh Steelers center B.J. Finney has helped instruct at the event, as has former Steelers and current Cleveland Browns lineman Chris Hubbard.
“There are lots of 7-on-7 events over the summer, and this is good to focus on the linemen,” Brozeski said.
And where there are linemen, there has to be beef — err, pork?
The hogs need to be fed.
“Finishing with a pig roast always is a big hit with the players,” Brozeski said. “The best part of the event is having a special event for linemen only.”
The ultimate prize after a long day of blocking, pulling and jamming isn’t the pig, however. It’s the title of lineman challenge champion.
The sixth Westmoreland County Coaches Association Underclassmen Football Showcase attracted 130 players from 21 schools last weekend at Hempfield. Coaches from 33 local and national college programs — Division I to Division III — were on hand to scout players, who worked through a number of drills.
Zac Gordon of Franklin Regional had the top 40-yard dash time at 4.38 seconds. Greensburg Central Catholic’s Zach Kuvinka finished the shuttle run in 3.97 seconds, and Greensburg Salem’s Ryan Thomas had the best broad jump at 9 feet, 6 inches.
Top bench-press participants included Zach Smith and Aiden Smith of Gateway (135 pounds, 25 reps), Russell Pytak of Yough and Gordon (185/17) and Hempfield teammates Fintan Brose and Dylan Feretti (225/21).
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .