What to watch for in WPIAL sports on May 15, 2024: Shaler, South Fayette meet in eagerly anticipated matchup

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Tuesday, May 14, 2024 | 11:40 PM


Let’s just call it even steven.

Wednesday marks the first meeting of the year between defending district and state champion No. 8 seed Shaler (15-5) and No. 9 South Fayette (8-6).

The much-anticipated matchup highlights Day 2 of the WPIAL baseball playoffs … weather permitting.

While this is the first clash this spring, these two have collided four times earlier in this decade as section foes without settling any bragging rights.

In 2021, South Fayette won the first game, 5-3, and then Shaler won the second matchup, 5-4.

A year later, the Titans won the opener, 2-1, with the Lions coming back to win the second game, 8-3.

This season, Shaler had a five-game winning streak snapped in its regular season finale, a 4-3 loss to North Allegheny.

Following a sweep of Upper St. Clair to wrap up second place in Section 2-5A, South Fayette has won three of its last four regular season contests.

The winner advances to the Class 5A quarterfinals Monday to face top-seeded West Allegheny.

You can watch the Tians and Lions at Boyce-Mayview Complex in Upper St. Clair starting at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

In the other three first-round 5A games:

• No. 5 Plum (13-7) was one of four teams to finish tied for first place in Section 1-5A. The Mustangs draw No. 12 Trinity (8-8) at Gateway at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN, with the winner advancing to face No. 4 Bethel Park.

• No. 7 Penn-Trafford (16-3) also wears the Section 1 crown as it opens the postseason against No. 10 Moon (9-7), winner of six straight games. The winner of the game at Gateway at 2 p.m. will play No. 2 Fox Chapel.

• Another one of the quad-champions in Section 1 is Franklin Regional (12-7). The Panthers have won three straight games and will take on No. 11 Connellsville (11-9) at Gateway at 4:30 p.m. with No. 3 North Hills awaiting the winner.

Why not us again?

Last spring, Hopewell gave hope to all double-digit seeds when it won a WPIAL Class 4A championship as a No. 14 seed.

The Vikings stunned No. 3 West Mifflin, No. 6 North Catholic, No. 7 Indiana and No. 5 Latrobe to claim an unexpected title for a team that entered the playoffs with an 8-11 overall record.

After finishing tied for third place with Blackhawk in Section 1-4A, Hopewell (9-9) hopes to duplicate its dream postseason run starting Wednesday when the Vikings battle No. 5 Latrobe (17-3) at Plum at 4 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s title game.

Landon Fox threw a complete game and was 2 for 3 at the plate as the Vikings concluded their sensational stunning tour with a win over the Wildcats, 4-3.

Latrobe had a chance this spring to earn the No. 1 seed in the wide open 4A playoff bracket, but the Wildcats were swept in their final section series by Belle Vernon, allowing the Leopards to pass them and win the Section 2-4A title and grab the top seed.

In the other seven opening round 4A contests:

Blackhawk (7-1) is used to playing in the 1 vs. 16 playoff game, but not as the No. 16 seed. The Cougars face top seed Belle Vernon (13-3) at the Boyce-Mayview Complex in Upper St. Clair at 4:30 p.m.

• A pair of section runners-up square off when No. 8 Central Valley (10-7) battles No. 9 Indiana (10-9) at North Allegheny at 2 p.m.

• A year ago, Montour (13-6) was the No. 1 seed in the 4A tournament, only to fall to Latrobe in the semifinals. Now, the No. 4 seed Spartans take on No. 13 Uniontown (6-9) at Peterswood Park in Peters Township at 2 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

• No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (17-2) was the top-ranked HSSN preseason team in 4A and won a share of the Section 3-4A crown. In their playoff opener, the Jaguars face No. 15 Ringgold (8-11) at the Boyce-Mayview Complex in Upper St. Clair at 2 p.m.

• No. 7 Chartiers Valley (11-6) won three straight before falling to Bethel Park in its regular season finale. The Colts go up against No. 10 Kiski Area (11-8) in a battle of third-place finishers at North Allegheny at 4:30 p.m.

• No. 3 West Mifflin (16-2) shared the section championship for a second straight season, last year with Chartiers Valley and this season with Thomas Jefferson. The Titans play No. 14 Knoch (9-9) at Plum at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

• It’s a rematch of a 2023 first-round game when No. 6 North Catholic (13-4) once again faces No. 11 Elizabeth Forward (11-7) at Peterswood Park in Peters Township at 4:30 p.m. on Trib HSSN. The Trojans cruised past the Warriors a year ago, 11-1.

Eleven Heaven

Most of the higher seeded teams in the WPIAL Class 5A and 4A softball playoffs took care of business Monday and moved on to the district quarterfinals.

However, there were some eyebrow-raisers, including both No. 11 seeds pulling off opening-round stunners of two defending WPIAL champions.

In Class 5A, No. 11 Latrobe (10-10) ousted defending district champion Trinity, 5-1.

Up next for the Wildcats is a battle with No. 3 West Allegheny (17-3) at West Mifflin at 5 p.m.

The Indians took care of Fox Chapel in the first round for a second straight year, this time winning, 12-1.

In the 4A first round, No. 11 Blackhawk (9-7) eliminated Belle Vernon, 7-5.

The Cougars move on to the quarterfinals to take on No. 3 Indiana (13-6).

The Section 1-4A champion Little Indians had a first-round bye.

The Blackhawk against Indiana second-round game is at Plum at 4 p.m.

Here are the other three Class 5A quarterfinals games set for Wednesday:

• Top seed Armstrong (15-3) fresh off a four-run triumph over Western Beaver, goes up against No. 8 Connellsville (13-7) at Gateway at 6 p.m. The Falcons knocked off Plum, 9-4.

• No. 4 Penn-Trafford (13-5) will square off with No. 5 Shaler (15-3) at Plum at 6 p.m. Both teams advanced with 3-2 wins in the first round, the Warriors beating Bethel Park and the Titans walking it off against Franklin Regional.

• No. 2 North Hills (14-4) had quite the scare in the opening round, but a big comeback late lifted the Indians past upset-minded Mars, 9-8. Now the Section 1-5A champs take on No. 10 Thomas Jefferson (9-7) at Gateway at 2 p.m. The Jaguars knocked out South Fayette in the opening round, 6-4.

Here are the other three second-round games in 4A softball:

• Top seed Elizabeth Forward (17-1) makes its 2024 postseason debut when it plays No. 9 West Mifflin (11-8) at Norwin at 4 p.m. The Titans cruised past Uniontown in the opener, 10-1.

• West Mifflin is the site as No. 4 Chartiers Valley (15-3) battles No. 5 Montour (10-6) after the two combined for 30 runs in the first round. The Colts defeated Highlands, 14-4 while the Spartans clawed past McKeesport, 16-8. Game time Wednesday is 3 p.m.

• No. 2 seed Hampton (15-4), fresh off a first-round bye, takes on No. 7 Knoch (14-6) at Mars at 4 p.m. The Knights eliminated Greensburg Salem in the first round, 8-3.

6A softball finally debuts

While top seed Hempfield and No. 2 Seneca Valley continue their mini-vacations into the final four, four teams are set to battle for the other two semifinals spots as the Class 6A postseason finally begins.

No. 4 Pine-Richland (11-9) will face No. 5 Norwin (8-10) at Gateway at 4 p.m. with the winner facing top seed and defending champion Hempfield.

The Rams swept the Knights in their two games this season, 13-1 and 5-2.

No. 3 North Allegheny (12-7) goes up against No. 6 Canon-McMillan (6-11) at the Boyce-Mayview Complex in Upper St. Clair at 4 p.m. with the winner challenging Seneca Valley in the semis.

The Tigers won both games this season against the Big Macs, 14-3 and 7-3.

Lacrosse goes chalk

The WPIAL lacrosse playoffs head into the quarterfinals Wednesday with both the girls 3A and the boys 2A going chalk, meaning there were no upsets in the opening round.

In girls 3A, Mt. Lebanon, Pine-Richland and Upper St. Clair all make their postseason debut after enjoying first-round byes.

• Top seed Mt. Lebanon (16-0) will host No. 8 North Allegheny (8-8). The Tigers got past Sewickley Academy in the first round, 15-12.

• Defending champion and No. 2 Pine-Richland (14-2) welcomes No. 7 Canon-McMillan (11-4), a winner in the opening round over North Hills, 18-5.

• No. 3 Upper St. Clair (11-5) is home to neighboring No. 6 Peters Township (10-9). The Indians in Round 1 were victors over Seneca Valley, 21-8.

• The two teams that had to play to reach the quarterfinals meet when No. 5 Shady Side Academy (11-4) visits No. 4 Fox Chapel (13-4). The Bulldogs defeated Norwin, 13-7, in the opening round while the Foxes rolled past Butler, 18-4.

In the boys 2A bracket, Mars, South Fayette, Penn-Trafford and Hampton were the top four seeds and received a bye into the quarterfinals.

• Top seed and defending champion Mars (14-3) will be home to No. 8 Seton LaSalle (11-4). The Rebels edged Latrobe in the opening round, 9-7.

• No. 2 South Fayette (17-1) will be home in the quarterfinals to No. 7 Indiana (11-5). The Little Indians cruised past Freeport in the first round, 11-3.

• No. 6 Shaler (12-5) pounded Moon in Round 1, 16-4. Now the Titans visit No. 3 Penn-Trafford (14-4).

• No. 4 Hampton (10-6) is home to No. 5 Bethel Park (13-6). The Black Hawks in their playoff opener knocked off Quaker Valley, 15-11.

All eight quarterfinals matches on Wednesday begin at 7 p.m.

Rain runners

The forecast is not a dry one as the best district athletes head north to Slippery Rock University for the 2024 WPIAL individual track and field championships.

All eyes will be on Butler senior Drew Griffith, a national champion, as he looks for more gold in the 1,600 and 3,200 races after winning those events a year ago.

The event begins at 11 a.m.

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