Westmoreland notebook: Pitt softball feels ‘like home’ for Mt. Pleasant’s Brunson

Saturday, November 30, 2019 | 4:38 PM

Mt. Pleasant junior softball player Haylie Brunson announced last week she made a verbal commitment to play at Pitt.

Brunson opened her recruitment during the spring after she initially committed to Louisiana-Lafayette as a freshman.

Pitt offered a week ago.

“I absolutely love the coaches,” Brunson said. “They really made Pitt feel like home. I also really liked the the campus and the team culture. I’m so thankful to get the opportunity to play in front of my friends and family while representing my hometown.”

Brunson hit .338 with six doubles, two triples, four home runs, 15 RBIs and 14 runs last season for the Vikings (19-2), the WPIAL Class 4A runner-up that reached No. 18 in the MaxPreps Top 25 national rankings.

A versatile player, Brunson has played second base, third base, shortstop and in the outfield during her prep career.

Brunson was recruited as a corner infielder and outfielder.

New NCAA recruiting rules aimed at controlling early commitments of players do not allow colleges to have contact with recruits until Sept. 1 of the athlete’s junior year. Some players were receiving offers in middle school and a wave of WPIAL players committed to Division I programs when they were freshmen.

Brunson will join another local product (Yough grad Hannah Bach) at Pitt.


All-state soccer

Four players from Westmoreland County schools were named to the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association All-State teams. In all, 24 from the WPIAL made the list.

Franklin Regional had two selections: sophomore forward Anthony DiFalco and senior midfielder Connor Hudson.

DiFalco scored 30 goals and distributed 14 assists, and Hudson had nine goals and 10 assists for Franklin Regional, which won back-to-back WPIAL Class 3A titles.

Belle Vernon senior midfielder Niko Apodiakos followed in his brother’s footsteps by receiving all-state honors. Niko had 15 goals and seven assists in his final high school season.

The only local girl to make the all-state list was Penn-Trafford senior midfielder Sarah Nguyen. An Akron recruit, Nguyen had 11 goals and eight assists.


Ward in All-American game

Greensburg Central Catholic senior Nate Ward, who was selected to play in the High School All-American Game, did not receive all-state recognition.

Ward, an Indiana recruit, had 30 goals and led GCC to a WPIAL Class A championship. He will be in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday through Saturday to play in the national all-star game. The game is Saturday.

A few players from the WPIAL have played in the game. Josh Lichini of North Allegheny in 2017 was the last. Max Silberg, who spent a year at Fox Chapel before transferring to The Kiski School, played in the ‘16 game.

Past girls from the WPIAL to play in the All-American game are Bailey Cartwright of GCC (‘16), who is at Notre Dame, and Norwin’s Emily Harrigan in ‘17. She plays for Rutgers.


Hoop season is here

High school basketball opens Friday and a number of local teams will play in tip-off tournaments.

Hempfield will be a happening place for the first couple of weeks.

The 15th annual Hempfield Tip-off Tournament will be Friday and Saturday at Spartan Field House.

Friday’s schedule has Franklin Regional vs. McKeesport at 4 p.m., Jeannette vs. Belle Vernon at 5:30, Penn-Trafford vs. North Allegheny at 7 and Greensburg Salem vs. Hempfield at 8:30.

On Saturday, McKeesport will play Jeannette at 12:30 p.m., followed by Belle Vernon vs. Penn-Trafford at 2, Greensburg Salem vs. Franklin Regional at 3:30 and North Allegheny vs. Hempfield at 5.

On Dec. 14, Hempfield will host the 2nd annual Westmoreland County Coaches Association Showcase in two gyms. There will be four games at Spartan Field House: Monessen vs. Mt. Pleasant at noon; Derry vs. Southmoreland (1:45 p.m.); Jeannette vs. Burrell (3:30); and Belle Vernon vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (5:15).

Hempfield’s old gym will host Hempfield vs. Kiski Area (noon). Norwin faces Valley (1:45) and Latrobe plays Greensburg Salem (3:30).


Going camping

Heads Up Softball, a winter training program that runs out of the Norwin Baseball Academy, will have a “Holiday All Skills Clinic” from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 26-27.

Cost is $75 and the event will be capped at 40 players.

The event will be conducted by Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little, who also is a volunteer hitting coach at Seton Hill. Contact: 724-493-4676 or coachlittle35@comcast.net.


Honoring ‘Huddie’

Greensburg Salem will host a girls tip-off tournament Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, Greensburg Salem’s girls team will honor longtime Golden Lions football historian and former Tribune-Review sports editor Howard “Huddie” Kaufman.

Kaufman, at 91, still attends Greensburg Salem football and basketball games.

Coach Rick Klimchock said it will be “Huddie Kaufman Appreciation Night.”

Greensburg Salem plays Ligonier Valley in Friday’s season opener.



Derry senior football lineman Max Malis (6-foot-3, 270 pound) picked up an offer from Division II Southwest Minnesota State.

• Penn-Trafford’s Corina Paszek will continue her swimming career at Clarion.

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

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