What to watch for in WPIAL sports on May 23, 2023: Baseball contenders jump right into semifinals

Monday, May 22, 2023 | 11:41 PM

Welcome to Semifinals Tuesday in the WPIAL with 12 baseball, four softball and four boys volleyball final four contests on the schedule.

When the dust settled from Quarterfinals Monday in district baseball, four section champions were left standing to battle in the semifinals in Class 5A.

Section 3 champion and top seed Shaler (17-4) will face No. 4 seed and Section 1 co-champion Plum (14-7) at North Allegheny at 4 p.m.

Section 2 champion and No. 2 seed Bethel Park (16-4) will go up against the other Section 1 co-champ, Penn-Trafford (14-5), at the Washington & Jefferson Complex in Washington at 7 p.m.

It will be the first meeting between these teams this season.

The Titans have won five straight while the Mustangs have won 11 of their last 12.

The Blackhawk are on a nine-game winning streak and the Warriors have won five of their last six.

Both games can be seen on Trib HSSN.

Northern lights

Three of the final four teams in Class 6A are from north of Pittsburgh and Section 1.

North Allegheny (15-6) blanked Norwin in the quarterfinals and will now battle section foe Butler (13-8), which held on to beat Canon-McMillan.

The Tigers took two out of three from the Golden Tornado in April, winning the first two games by scores of 13-0 and 3-2 before Butler prevailed in the series finale, 5-2.

The game will be played at Boyce-Mayview in Upper St. Clair at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The other semifinal pits top-seeded Pine-Richland (15-6) against defending champion Mt. Lebanon, the only team from Section 2 to win a quarterfinals game. The game will be at North Allegheny at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The teams earned a spot in the final four in two totally different games Monday. The Rams used offense and lots of it to beat Hempfield, 14-12, while the Blue Devils used pitching and defense to edge Seneca Valley, 2-1.

Bracket busters

While some classes still have a darkhorse remaining after two rounds, Class 4A has two bracket busters getting ready to meet with a berth in the finals at stake.

No. 7 seed Indiana (15-7) cruised past Laurel Highlands in the opening round, then stunned No. 2 Blackhawk, 4-1, in the quarterfinals Monday.

If Indiana is a surprise entrant into the 4A final four, then what kind of eyebrow raiser is No. 14 Hopewell?

The Vikings first stunned defending champion West Mifflin in Round 1, then Monday knocked off No. 6 North Catholic, 6-2.

Hopewell and Indiana meet at Seneca Valley at 4 pm. on Trib HSSN.

The other 4A semifinal has top-seeded Montour (19-3) squaring off with Latrobe (16-6) at Boyce-Mayview in Upper St. Clair at 4 p.m.

The Section 1 champion Spartans have won six of their last seven while the Section 2-winning Wildcats have won their last six straight.

Rising in class

A year ago, both Riverside and Neshannock were part of the Class 2A final four.

Now both the Panthers and Lancers are semifinals bound in Class 3A.

Undefeated and top-seeded Riverside (19-0) will be challenged by Section 3 champion East Allegheny (14-5) at Pullman Park in Butler at 2 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Neshannock (17-4), the 2A runner-up in 2022, will battle Section 2 champion Avonworth (17-5) at Pullman Park at 7:30 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The Antelopes were a 3A semifinalist a year ago before losing to eventual champion South Park, 3-2.

Streaking in 2A

Two teams come into the 2A semifinals on double-digit win streaks.

Top-seeded Serra Catholic (18-2) has won 12 straight games as it faces Burgettstown (14-3) at the Washington & Jefferson College Sports Complex in Washington at 2 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The Section 1 champion Blue Devils have won five in a row, including a 6-1 victory over South Side in the quarterfinals.

No. 3-seeded New Brighton (15-4) has an 11-game winning streak as it prepares to battle Seton LaSalle (15-4) for a third time this season.

The teams split in the regular season, the Lions winning 5-2, then the Rebels cruising to victory, 14-4.

The rubber game is at Gateway at 6:30 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

How the west was won

Two teams on the western side of the district will meet in a Class A semifinal as Rochester (10-7) plays Bishop Canevin (13-3).

The Rams have used offense, with a combined 15 runs scored in wins over Avella and No. 2 Eden Christian Academy.

The Crusaders have used pitching and defense, yielding only one run in playoff wins over Western Beaver and No. 3 Leechburg.

Worlds collide at Gateway at 4 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

In the other semifinal, top seed and two-time defending champion Union (13-4) goes up against California (13-7) at the Washington & Jefferson College Sports Complex in Washington at 4:30 p.m.

The Scotties have won five straight while the Trojans are on a six-game winning streak.

Returning to the final four

Three of the Class 3A softball semifinalists also played in the semifinals last spring.

Defending 3A champion and top-seeded Avonworth (19-1) will battle Burrell (13-5) for a third time this season.

While the Antelopes won it all in 2022, the Bucs fell in the 4A semifinals to runner-up Elizabeth Forward.

This season, Avonworth swept Burrell, winning by scores of 4-1 and 2-1.

The game will be played at North Allegheny at 4 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

In the other final four contest, Southmoreland (15-2) takes on Waynesburg (16-3) at Peterswood Park in Peters Township on Field 2 at 3 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The Section 3 champion Scotties have won eight straight while the Section 4-winning Raiders have won five in a row.

Right at home

You’ll excuse the Frazier softball team if they feel right at home in the final four.

This is the sixth consecutive appearance in the semifinals for the Commodores softball program. They are pretty good in these contests too, going 4-1 in their previous five final four games.

Third-seeded Frazier (14-1) will have its hands full Tuesday, though, with a battle against undefeated and second-seeded Carmichaels (17-0) at Peterswood Park in Peters Township on Field 1 at 3 p.m.

The only blemish on either team’s record is the Commodores’ loss to Charleroi in their season opener, 5-2.

The other contest has top-seeded Union (15-3) playing No. 4 Chartiers-Houston (13-5) at North Allegheny at 6 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

All four teams that received first round byes have reached the semifinals.

Volleyball semifinals

The district championship participants will be decided in WPIAL boys volleyball Tuesday with semifinal doubleheaders in 3A and 2A.

The 3A twin bill will be at Fox Chapel as top-seeded Shaler faces Canon-McMillan at 7:30 p.m. while defending champion North Allegheny goes up against Penn-Trafford at 6 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

In the 2A doubleheader, No. 1-seeded Latrobe faces North Catholic at 7:30 p.m. and No. 2 Mars battles No. 6 Ambridge at 6 p.m., both at Gateway.

More Baseball

This week on Trib HSSN for week of May 29, 2023
Trib HSSN baseball team of the week for May 28, 2023
Trib HSSN baseball player of the week for May 28, 2023
Trib HSSN state baseball rankings for May 27, 2023
Trib 10: Plenty of changes in power rankings heading into WPIAL championship week