What to watch for in WPIAL sports on May 24, 2023: Softball squads set for semifinals

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 | 11:46 PM

The diamond final four switches from baseball to softball Wednesday with eight WPIAL semifinals.

Two district softball teams have yet to play a postseason game, yet they are one win from the finals.

Due to the size of Class 6A softball in District 7, only six teams made the playoffs. The top two teams received byes while the other four battled in two quarterfinals.

Thus, top seed Seneca Valley and No. 2 seed Hempfield make their playoff debuts in the final four.

The defending champion Raiders (16-1) open up against Pine-Richland (7-14) at North Allegheny at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Seneca Valley beat Pine-Richland twice in the regular season by scores of 10-0 and 11-0.

In the other semifinal, Hempfield (16-3) opens up the postseason against rival Norwin (15-5) at Gateway at 2 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The Knights won the first meeting of the year with plenty of offense, 10-8, while the Spartans took the second game that was pitching heavy, 2-1.

Young Lions on the prowl

The Class 5A softball semifinals field consists of three section champions in Armstrong, Shaler and Trinity, along with a young No. 12 seed that refuses to think they are built for the future.

The future is now for a South Fayette team that starts five freshmen, three sophomores and two juniors.

The Lions surprised No. 5 North Hills in the opening round, 6-5, and then stunned No. 4 West Allegheny in the quarterfinals, 4-3.

South Fayette (12-9) now goes up against the top seed and defending champion Armstrong (18-1) at Gateway at 4 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The other semifinal is also at Gateway at 6 p.m. as No. 2 Shaler (18-0) squares off with No. 3 Trinity (17-2) on Trib HSSN.

Bye now, advance later

There were four byes in a WPIAL 4A softball playoff field with 12 teams.

The four teams that did not have to play a first-round game are now preparing for a semifinals doubleheader at West Mifflin.

The two games pit section rivals against each other.

No. 1 Elizabeth Forward (17-0) takes on Belle Vernon (16-4) at 3 p.m. on Trib HSSN for a third time this season.

The Warriors are trying to sweep the Leopards and the season series between these Section 2-4A foes. EF won the first game, 5-2, and then cruised to victory in the rematch, 11-1.

The second game pits No. 2 Montour (14-3) against No. 3 Chartiers Valley (17-2) at 5 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

These two teams we co-champions in Section 3-4A and split during the regular season. The Colts won the first game, 5-3, and then the Spartans prevailed in the second meeting, 6-2.

Final four flashback

Three of the four softball semifinalists in Class 2A also were participants in the 2A final four last spring.

A year ago, eventual champion Neshannock, Laurel, Frazier and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart played in the semifinals.

The two teams that came up short of the finals were Laurel and OLSH. The two then met in the WPIAL consolation game and the Spartans defeated the Chargers, 6-0.

Those two teams meet Wednesday in the 2023 semifinals at North Allegheny at 5 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Laurel is 15-2 and the winner of seven straight while OLSH is 14-3 and has won eight of its last nine games.

The other semifinal has top-seeded Neshannock (18-0) taking on Greensburg Central Catholic (13-2) at North Allegheny at 3 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Search for the golden planets

Two years ago, the WPIAL 2A lacrosse champions were out of this world.

On Wednesday, the Mars boys and girls lacrosse teams hope to sweep up gold again.

The Fightin’ Planets girls lacrosse team faces Blackhawk in the 2A girls finals at 6 p.m.

The Mars boys team looks to reach seventh heaven when it battles South Fayette at 8 p.m.

Both title matches at Joe Walton Stadium at Robert Morris can be seen on Trib HSSN.

Mars and Blackhawk are in search of their second district girls lacrosse championships. The Cougars won it all in 2016.

The Fightin’ Planets boys team is trying to win a seventh straight WPIAL crown while the Lions are shooting for their first title.

Also Wednesday, the 2A boys consolation match pits Penn-Trafford against Hampton at 4 p.m. for a berth in the state playoffs.

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