What to watch for in WPIAL sports on May 22, 2024: Spots in softball finals up for grabs

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | 11:55 PM


Four WPIAL softball semifinals games are in the books from Tuesday, as the Class 3A and 2A title games are set for PennWest-California University next week.

Now the other four classifications take to the final-four stage to determine which teams will play for district gold at Lilley Field next week.

In Class 6A, top-seed Hempfield and No. 2 Seneca Valley finally make their playoff debuts following layoffs of 14 days for each team.

Defending champion Hempfield (18-1) will face rival Norwin (9-10) at Gateway at 5 p.m.

The Spartans outscored the Knights by a combined 15-1 in their two regular season meetings.

Seneca Valley (19-1), the 2022 district champion, goes up against Canon-McMillan (7-11) at North Allegheny at 5 p.m.

The Raiders swept the Big Macs, winning by a combined score of 18-6.

Favorites, underdogs collide

The WPIAL Class 5A softball bracket has turned out to be a strange one.

On the left side of the bracket, the favorites have all won.

On the right side of the bracket, it has been upset city.

So in the semifinals Wednesday, the two favorites meet in one game while the longshots go at it in the other.

Top-seed Armstrong (16-3) will take on No. 4 Penn-Trafford (14-5) at Gateway at 3 p.m. as the top two teams in Section 2-5A collide.

They split their section games this spring with the Warriors winning the first game, 11-3, while the River Hawks took the second meeting, 8-4.

On the flip side, No. 10 Thomas Jefferson (10-7) takes on No. 11 Latrobe (11-10) at Gateway at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN in a battle of third-place teams.

The Jaguars finished third in Section 4-5A while the Wildcats ended up in third place in Section 2-5A behind Armstrong and Penn-Trafford.

TJ stunned No. 7 South Fayette and No. 2 North Hills in the first two rounds while Latrobe upset No. 6 Trinity and No. 3 West Allegheny thus far in the playoffs.

Blackhawk not down

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things might not belong.

No, we’re not on Sesame Street, we are talking about the 4A softball bracket where seeds No. 1, 2 and 4 are joined in the semifinals by seed No. 11.

Only two teams were seeded lower than Blackhawk (10-7) when the playoffs began, but after surprising wins over No. 6 Belle Vernon and No. 3 Indiana, the Cougars are one win away from the finals when they battle No. 2 Hampton (16-4) at North Allegheny at 3 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

In the other side of the bracket, top seed Elizabeth Forward (18-1) will go up against No. 4 Chartiers Valley (16-3) at West Mifflin at 3 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Nearly chalk

The Class A softball playoffs have gone according to seed, which is referred to as going chalk.

The lone exception was Monday when No. 5 West Greene handed No. 4 Frazier its first loss of the season, 13-5.

Now West Greene (13-7) will face a familiar postseason foe in top seed Union (19-1) at Montour at 3 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

These programs have won the last seven district crowns.

The Pioneers won from 2016-2021 (with the exception of the canceled covid season in 2020) while the Scotties have won the last two titles.

The other semifinals game pits No. 2 Carmichaels (14-2) against No. 3 Chartiers-Houston (15-2) at Montour at 5 p.m.

It’s the third meeting of the season between these Section 2-A rivals.

The Buccaneers won the first meeting, 6-5, while the Mighty Mikes took the second contest, 7-5.

The last puzzle piece

Eleven teams punched their tickets to the WPIAL baseball championships thanks to semifinals victories Tuesday.

Now the final puzzle piece to the 2024 district baseball finals will be determined Wednesday.

Top-seed West Allegheny (16-3) will battle No. 4 Bethel Park (14-6) at Ross Memorial Field at the W&J Sports Complex in Washington at 6 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Both teams relied on strong pitching in their quarterfinals wins Tuesday with the Indians dethroning defending champion Shaler, 5-0, while the Black Hawks soared past Trinity, 11-1.

The matchup to decide who will play Penn-Trafford (19-3) in the 5A finals pits Section 3 co-champ West Allegheny against Section 2 outright champion Bethel Park.

These teams are no strangers to playing for gold at Wild Things Park.

West Allegheny is the 2022 5A champion while Bethel Park is the 2021 and 2023 district runner-up.

Lax finals

One district championship match and two consolation lacrosse contests are set for Joe Walton Stadium at Robert Morris on Wednesday.

In the boys 2A finals, top-seed Mars (16-3) will take on No. 2 South Fayette (19-1) at 8 p.m. in a battle of section champions.

The Fightin’ Planets hope to continue to be great as they try to capture consecutive title No. 8.

Mars has outscored its two playoff opponents 38-1 while South Fayette won their two postseason matches by a combined score of 26-12.

In the boys 2A consolation match for a berth in the PIAA playoffs, No. 3 Penn-Trafford (15-5) will face No. 4 Hampton (11-7) at 4 p.m.

In the girls 2A consolation match, No. 7 South Fayette (13-7) will battle No. 4 Penn-Trafford (16-3) at 6 p.m.

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