What to watch for in WPIAL sports on May 16, 2022: Baseball playoffs heat up with 29 clashes

Monday, May 16, 2022 | 11:49 PM

Tuesday is loaded with spring sports postseason action with something for everyone on the playoff menu.

The busiest day of the 2022 WPIAL baseball playoffs will be Tuesday as the district hosts 29 first-round ballgames.

Three of those 29 games include Franklin Regional, Hopewell and Shenango opening up defense of their 2021 district crowns.

Hopewell is the top seed in 3A and will be heavy favorites when it plays South Allegheny at the Washington & Jefferson Complex in Washington at 2 p.m.

The Gladiators finished 8-10 this season but are in the playoffs for a second straight year after missing out on the postseason the previous 14 seasons.

Shenango is the No. 3 seed in Class 2A and ended the regular season white hot.

The Wildcats were 5-4 after an April 23 loss but have since won nine consecutive games.

Their opponent at Chippewa Park will be Fort Cherry.

The Rangers are 8-5 but lost their final two games of the regular season.

The toughest assignment of the three belongs to last spring’s Class 5A champions, Franklin Regional.

Despite finishing tied for second place with Penn-Trafford, one game behind Latrobe in Section 1-5A, the Panthers are the No. 10 seed and drew South Fayette on Tuesday evening at Burkett Field at 7 p.m.

The Lions also finished tied for second place, with Shaler in Section 3, one game behind West Allegheny.

All opening round games in Class 5A, 3A, 2A and A will be played Tuesday.

Odd softball openers

It might not be as busy as baseball, but the district softball playoffs have 17 first-round playoff games set for Tuesday, with all of the opening-round matchups in Class 5A, 3A and A.

One of the Round 1 games in 5A features two programs that know what it’s like to hoard gold.

No. 5 West Allegheny faces No. 12 Latrobe at North Allegheny at 6 p.m.

The Indians won three straight 5A softball championships from 2017-2019. The Wildcats won their first Class AAAA title 15 years ago in 2007. Latrobe added two more crowns in 2008 and in 2011.

Mt. Pleasant won the district 3A championship last year as the No. 1 seed. This year, the Vikings are in the same quadrant but as the No. 8 seed. To face top-seed Avonworth, the Vikings must first beat North Catholic on Tuesday.

In the 2021 Class A first round, Bishop Canevin beat Jefferson-Morgan in the 8-9 game to earn a spot in the quarterfinals against West Greene.

On Tuesday, the Crusaders are once again in the 8-9 game, this time against Mapletown. If BC wins, it once again will battle five-time defending district champion West Greene in the quarterfinals.

2A boys and 3A girls lax playoffs

The district lacrosse playoffs continue Tuesday in Class 3A girls and Class 2A boys.

There are four first-round matches in the 3A girls playoffs as the top-four seeds earned opening-round byes and await the winners in the quarterfinals.

Of the eight teams participating in Round 1 on Tuesday, seven played in opening-round matches a year ago.

Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Fox Chapel, Latrobe, Moon, North Allegheny and Peters Township are trying to earn spots into the quarterfinals for a second straight year.

The only difference is Seneca Valley replacing Pine-Richland after the Rams earned a bye this spring.

Bethel Park, Peters Township, Pine-Richland and North Allegheny earned first-round wins in 2021 with two of the four openers going to overtime.

In 2A boys, three teams that played in the opening round last year all received byes this season. Quaker Valley, Indians and Hampton all await opening-round winners in the quarterfinals.

Defending champion Mars is the top seed and also received a bye.

Shaler at Trinity, Sewickley Academy at South Fayette, North Hills at Franklin Regional and Greensburg Central Catholic at Moon are the four first-round matches Tuesday.

Opening night for volleyball

The curtain goes up on the 2022 WPIAL boys volleyball playoffs Tuesday with 11 first-round matches.

In Class 3A, the big question is will any of the six first-round matches be competitive on opening night.

Last spring, there were seven opening-round contests and only one went beyond three games.

There is one rematch as Hempfield faces Bethel Park in the opening round for the second straight year. The Spartans advanced last season with a 3-0 victory.

While there were three first-round byes in Class 2A, defending champion Seton LaSalle did not get one of them.

The Rebels will be in action Tuesday when they face Mars at Gateway at 6 p.m.

Perennial power Ambridge also is in action as it takes on Deer Lakes at Shaler at 6 p.m.

The Bridgers won nine district 2A titles in a 12-year span from 2008-2019.

The Lancers won boys volleyball gold in 2011.

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