Westmoreland H.S. notebook: Quirky week shakes up WPIAL softball standings

Saturday, May 5, 2018 | 3:33 PM

A quirky couple of weeks on the local softball scene shook up the rankings and standings — sort of.

But it remains to be seen if recent “upsets” will affect WPIAL playoff seedings.

The WPIAL is scheduled to announce playoff pairings Thursday.

It began April 22 with an inconspicuous nonsection game at Seton Hill — odd because it was played on a Sunday afternoon but at least the weather was good — when Class 5A Penn-Trafford upset 6A No. 1 Hempfield to snap the Spartans' 46-game winning streak.

Last week, some more head-turners: Kiski Area blanked Penn-Trafford, a team averaging 10.5 runs per game at the time, 4-0. The next day, Latrobe lost to Norwin, 4-1.

Latrobe turned around and bounced back with an impressive, 1-0 win over Hempfield, ending the Spartans' 41-game section win streak.

On Friday, Greensburg Salem knocked off Franklin Regional, 2-0.

Hempfield usually is the hands-down, clear-as-crystal No. 1 seed in the highest classification and one would think the Spartans are the favorite to get the top seed again.

But did Latrobe make an argument with its win? The teams split their season series, and Hempfield has played a strong out-of-section schedule.

“Latrobe over Hempfield was hardly an upset,” Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. “Norwin over Latrobe was.”

Kalp thinks Norwin's seeding could get a boost from the Latrobe win. The Knights also rallied to down 4A power Yough, 6-5.

Either way, Hempfield and Latrobe likely are going to be 1-2 and on a collision course to meet again in the WPIAL 6A championship, which is either May 30 or 31 at Seton Hill.

Kalp and Latrobe coach Rick Kozusko both said they would not be surprised to see each other again in the playoffs.

Playoff fields

The local playoff picture is all but set with less than a week to play in the WPIAL baseball and softball seasons.

Local baseball qualifiers are: Hempfield, Penn-Trafford and Norwin in Class 6A; Franklin Regional and Latrobe in 5A; Greensburg Salem and Belle Vernon in 4A; Burrell, Mt. Pleasant and Valley in 3A; and Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette in A.

Softball playoff teams are: Hempfield, Latrobe and Norwin in 6A; Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional in 5A; Mt. Pleasant, Yough and Belle Vernon in 4A; Burrell and Southmoreland in 3A; and Monessen in A.

Hoops coaching searches

Friday was the deadline to apply for the Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball coaching job, and athletic director Dan Mahoney said the school will begin reviewing candidates this week.

Mt. Pleasant athletic director Allan Bilinsky said interviews will begin this week to fill the school's boys basketball opening.

Derry filled its boys vacancy Thursday when it promoted assistant and former head coach Tom Esposito to replace Damon Rause.

East-West game

Five Westmoreland County players are set to play in the PSFCA East-West football all-star game at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mansion Park in Altoona. They are Jeannette's Robert Kennedy, Bryce Lauer of Franklin Regional, Jake Neiderhiser of Ligonier Valley, Cam Suman of Penn-Trafford and Jake Smetak of Norwin.

Holler on the rise

Latrobe football lineman Trent Holler is seeing a spike in his recruiting.

Duquesne offered the 6-foot-3, 280-pound junior last week, giving him four Division I-FCS offers. The others are from Robert Morris, Notre Dame College and Albany.

Cincinnati and Youngstown State also are showing interest.

Sister act

Mt. Pleasant's Division I softball sisters only get one shot to play together, and they hope to make it a championship one.

Senior Chloe Poulich, a Towson recruit, is enjoying playing with her sister, Courtney, a freshman who also is set to play Division I softball in college. She already has committed to Liberty.

“This is the only year we can play together,” Chloe said. “It's cool, especially when we're on corners together. Hopefully, we can win it all.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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