WPIAL bracketology: HSSN takes an early look at potential 2021 softball pairings

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Thursday, May 13, 2021 | 1:05 AM


After a two-year wait, the WPIAL softball playoffs are back.

They were absent a year ago when the pandemic forced the entire season to be canceled, but the 2021 WPIAL softball playoff brackets will be revealed at 5 p.m. Thursday on TribLive HSSN.

Who’ll draw the No. 1 seeds?

Which teams get a first-round bye?

Here’s a look at what the WPIAL bracket would look like if HSSN’s Don Rebel were seeding the teams.

Class 6A

Don Rebel’s bracket

Quarterfinals

No. 1 Bethel Park vs. No. 8 Baldwin

No. 4 Hempfield vs. No. 5 Canon-McMillan

No. 2 Norwin vs. No. 7 North Allegheny

No. 3 Mt. Lebanon vs. No. 6 Pine-Richland

Don’s take: The WPIAL could go straight crossover with NA at Bethel Park and Baldwin vs. Norwin, but hard to ignore NA not getting the nod over Baldwin after a 6-0 win in season opener. Bethel Park is a HEAVY favorite in this small field. However, Hempfield has found a way to win district gold five straight years whether the Spartans were the favorites or not.

Class 5A

Don Rebel’s bracket

First round

No. 1 West Allegheny vs. No. 16 Hampton

No. 8 Armstrong vs. No. 9 Fox Chapel

No. 4 Latrobe vs. No. 13 Thomas Jefferson

No. 5 Plum vs. No. 12 South Fayette

No. 2 Penn-Trafford vs. No. 15 Indiana

No. 7 North Hills vs. No. 10 Trinity

No. 3 Shaler vs. No. 14 Connellsville

No. 6 Chartiers Valley vs. No. 11 Franklin Regional

Don’s take: As usual, Class 5A is deep and strong. There is a handful of legitimate favorites. When in doubt for the top seed, turn to the three-time defending champions. This tournament will be good because there is a strong top eight and then another handful of strong teams that can make deep runs. No weak links in the entire bracket. The eventual champion will have earned its gold.

Class 4A

Don Rebel’s bracket

First round

No. 1 Elizabeth Forward – Bye

No. 8 Central Valley vs. No. 9 Freeport

No. 4 Montour – Bye

No. 5 West Mifflin vs. No. 12 Burrell

No. 2 Beaver – Bye

No. 7 Knoch vs. No. 10 Belle Vernon

No. 3 Highlands – Bye

No. 6 Yough vs. No. 11 Blackhawk

Don’s take: In a sport that has vastly improved offensively, the Class 4A postseason may have an old school dominant feel to it thanks to two of the top pitchers in the district in Kailey Larcinese of Elizabeth Forward and Payton List of Beaver. Hard to not get excited about a possible showdown at Cal (Pa.) between those two. West Mifflin may be a dark horse, but it has lost three of four including a shutout by Laurel Highlands (3-12).

Class 3A

Don Rebel’s bracket

First round

No. 1 Mt. Pleasant – Bye

No. 8 Keystone Oaks vs. No. 9 Derry

No. 4 Deer Lakes – Bye

No. 5 South Allegheny vs. No. 12 Valley

No. 2 Avonworth – Bye

No. 7 Southmoreland vs. No. 10 South Park

No. 3 North Catholic – Bye

No. 6 Waynesburg Central vs. No. 11 Ellwood City

Don’s take: Mt. Pleasant is the team to beat in Class 3A, but good depth after them should make for a competitive bracket. Some great races for the top in all three sections, but I gave more love to Section 3. Their four playoff teams were a combined 31 games over .500 overall, while Section 2’s teams were +21 and Section 1 was +12. Southmoreland and Ellwood City could be dangerous “fourth-place” teams in the bracket.

Class 2A

Don Rebel’s bracket

First round

No. 1 Ligonier Valley vs. No. 16 Bentworth

No. 8 Charleroi vs. No. 9 Apollo-Ridge

No. 4 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart vs. No. 13 Riverside

No. 5 Shenango vs. No. 12 Serra Catholic

No. 2 Laurel vs. No. 15 Steel Valley

No. 7 Burgettstown vs. No. 10 Neshannock

No. 3 Frazier vs. No. 14 Fort Cherry

No. 6 Chartiers-Houston vs. No. 11 Carmichaels

Don’s take: Some of the top pitchers in the district call Class 2A home, including Madison Griffin (Ligonier Valley), Mia Edwards (Shenango), Emma Holaren (Carmichaels) and Justena Giles (OLSH). Ligonier Valley may find its first softball season back in the WPIAL a golden experience. The Rams will be challenged by some very good section champions that include the finalists the last two seasons in Laurel and Frazier as well as OLSH. Shenango and Chartiers-Houston lead the way of dangerous runner-up teams.

Class A

Don Rebel’s bracket

First round

No. 1 West Greene – Bye

No. 8 Bishop Canevin vs. No. 9 Jefferson-Morgan

No. 4 South Side – Bye

No. 5 Springdale vs. No. 12 Rochester

No. 2 Leechburg – Bye

No. 7 Mapletown vs. No. 10 Ellis School

No. 3 Union – Bye

No. 6 Greensburg Central Catholic vs. No. 11 St. Joseph

Don’s take: They may have collected a lot of silver on the basketball court, but the girls at West Greene are golden on the diamond. The top-seeded Pioneers will be the favorites to win “one for the thumb in ‘21” as they try to win a fifth straight Class A crown. Traditional power Leechburg along with Union and South Side might be the biggest hurdles in this bracket.

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