WPIAL Class 3A softball preseason breakdown
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | 7:56 PM
History was made a year ago when Southmoreland captured the WPIAL Class 3A softball title for the first time.
The Scotties went on to reach the PIAA semifinals to complete their best season.
So what will they do for an encore?
Can South Park avenge that title-game defeat?
What other teams will make a run this season?
All are valid questions as the season gets underway.
Here’s a preseason look at teams and players to watch in WPIAL Class 3A:
Preseason Top 5
Team (2018 record)
1. Southmoreland (12-8) — Eight starters return after helping the Scotties capture the program’s first WPIAL title with a 12-1 win over South Park. Back are senior catcher Lexi Klatt (.464), junior outfielder Charity Henderson (.492) and senior second baseman Faith Miller, a Robert Morris recruit.
2. South Park (17-3) — Former Baldwin pitcher Anna Lauterbach takes over as coach of South Park this season and inherits a team that won the Section 3 title and reached the WPIAL final and PIAA quarterfinals. Though Katlyn Pavlick moved on to Pitt, the Eagles return one of the WPIAL’s top hitters in senior shortstop Kaitlyn Morrison. Senior pitcher Jess Dean and senior catcher Charlyn Blackburn also return.
3. Avonworth (14-8) — The Lopes went 9-1 to win Section 2 last season. They advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA tournament. Avonworth returns eight starters, including four all-section players, notably second baseman Sarah Helffrich (.500) and pitcher Maya Kozup, an Edinboro recruit.
4. Burrell (12-5) — The Bucs have seven starters back from a team that reached the quarterfinals, including Gannon recruit Lea Coffman and Kayla Santucci, a Pitt-Greensburg recruit.
5. Beaver (13-2) — The Bobcats won the Section 3 title in Class 4A last season and could make a splash in Class 3A this season after reaching the WPIAL quarterfinals. Back for the Bobcats are senior outfielder Lexi Russell and senior pitcher Allie Teagle, both all-section selections.
Players to watch
Grace Albitz, Jr., OF, South Park
Makayla Blair, Jr., C, Deer Lakes
Lea Coffman, Sr., C, Burrell
Jess Dean, Sr., P, South Park
Ally DeJidas, Sr., OF, Freeport
Cara Fiore, Sr., OF, Burrell
Ariana Garroway, Sr., C, Ellwood City
Kayla Hartnett, Sr., OF, Steel Valley
Sarah Helffrich, Sr., INF, Avonworth
Charity Henderson, Jr., OF, Southmoreland
Sydney Kirkwood, Sr., INF, South Allegheny
Maya Kozup, Sr., P, Avonworth
Kaitlyn Morrison, Sr., INF, South Park
Adrienne Nardone, Sr., P, North Catholic
Lexi Russell, Jr., OF, Beaver
Allie Teagle, Jr., P, Beaver
*Class 3A features three sections, two with six teams and one with seven.
*Beaver, Derry, Keystone Oaks and Hopewell came down from 4A, and North Catholic moved up from 2A.
*Freedom, Charleroi, McGuffey and Riverside left 3A and dropped to 2A.
*North Catholic went 15-4 in Class 2A last season but returns just three starters, including Nardone, the team’s lone senior.
*Burrell has reached the playoffs for 13 straight seasons.
Section 1: Burrell, Deer Lakes, Derry, East Allegheny, Freeport, Valley
Section 2: Avonworth, Beaver, Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Hopewell, North Catholic
Section 3: Brownsville, Keystone Oaks, South Allegheny, South Park, Steel Valley, Waynesburg
Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.