WPIAL Class 4A softball preseason breakdown
Monday, March 18, 2019 | 8:58 PM
The Belle Vernon softball team has found itself atop the WPIAL Class 4A ladder the past two seasons.
But with standout lefty Bailey Parshall now pitching at Penn State, the Leopards may have a tougher road to the title game.
Parshall finished her career 76-13 with 984 strikeouts. Last season, she hit .418 with three home runs.
Section foe Elizabeth Forward, WPIAL Class 5A runner-up Thomas Jefferson, as well as perennial contenders Mt. Pleasant and Yough, among others, all have hopes of dethroning the Leopards.
Here’s a preseason look at Class 4A’s top teams and players:
Preseason Top 5
Team (2018 record)
1. Mt. Pleasant (19-2) — The 2017 PIAA champs are young but talented. Senior Carolyn Alincic, a Moorehead State recruit, returns to the circle for the Vikings, who were WPIAL and PIAA semifinalists last season. Also back is Louisiana-Lafayette recruit Haylie Brunson (.474) and first-baseman/outfielder Courtney Poulich (.388), a Liberty recruit. Chris Brunson enters his first season as head coach.
2. Yough (16-5) — A WPIAL runner-up last year, the Cougars again have high expectations. Back is one of the area’s top pitchers in senior Kierra Waywood, as well as senior all-section DP Hannah Christner, who will move behind the plate this season.
3. Thomas Jefferson (15-7) — The Jaguars reached the WPIAL title game with a starting lineup featuring one senior, one junior, four sophomores and three freshmen. They will be led by senior catcher Haleigh Karcher.
4. Elizabeth Forward (19-5) — The Warriors put together a seven-game winning streak late in the season that helped them reach the WPIAL semifinals. They return junior all-section outfielder Brianna Sersevic.
5. Belle Vernon (22-4) — The Leopards have six starters back from a team that won a WPIAL title and reached the PIAA quarterfinals. Sophomores Sophia Godzak and Vanessa Porter have been tabbed to replace Parshall.
Players to watch
Carolyn Alincic, Sr., P, Mt. Pleasant
Jhyla Bray, Jr., INF, McKeesport
Alex Bupp, Sr., INF, Ambridge
Alley Bush, Sr., C, Indiana
Hannah Christner, Jr., C, Yough
Breannan Colville, So., INF, Central Valley
Amanda Fischer, Jr., OF, Knoch
Jordan French, Sr., OF, Belle Vernon
Monica Gourley, Sr., INF, Knoch
Haleigh Karcher, Sr., C, Thomas Jefferson
Kim Kuzma, Sr., C, Ambridge
Emma Mackulin, So., OF, West Mifflin
Brianna Sersevic, So., OF, Elizabeth Forward
Kierra Waywood, Sr., P, Yough
*Class 4A will feature three sections, two with seven teams and one with six.
*Greensburg Salem, McKeesport, Ringgold and Thomas Jefferson dropped down from Class 5A.
*Four teams left Class 4A: South Fayette moved up to 5A, while Beaver, Derry and Keystone Oaks went to 3A.
*Indiana, which reached the WPIAL quarterfinals last season, returns nine players with starting experience, including Bush, an all-section catcher, as well as senior pitcher/shortstop Haleigh Zimmerman.
*Beaver won the Section 3 title last season on the strength of a 10-game winning streak before falling in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
Section 1: Greensburg Salem, Highlands, Indiana, Mt. Pleasant, Uniontown, Yough
Section 2: Belle Vernon, Carrick, Elizabeth Forward, McKeesport, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin
Section 3: Ambridge, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Knoch, New Castle, Quaker Valley
Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.