WPIAL Class 6A softball championship preview: Bethel Park vs. Canon-McMillan

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 | 4:23 PM


Class 6A

1-Bethel Park (17-0) vs. 7-Canon-McMillan (9-9)

Noon Thursday at Cal (Pa.)

Road to the finals

Bethel ParkThe Black Hawks haven’t been tested all that much this season. They’ve scored at least nine runs in each of their last six games, hitting that mark 13 times in 17 games this season. They beat Baldwin, 9-1, and Pine-Richland, 9-1, in the playoffs.

Canon-McMillanThe Big Macs have a softball program with championship pedigree, but coming into the playoffs, they had a 7-9 overall record this season. They responded with a pair of fairly sizeable upsets. First, they knocked off five-time defending WPIAL champion Hempfield, 2-1. Then, getting a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning from junior Taylor Eckles, who is recovering from a knee injury, Canon Mac knocked off Norwin, 7-4.

Secret to their success

• Bethel Park – Good luck pitching to this lineup, which includes five Division I recruits. There’s CF Lauren Caye (Seton Hall), 1B Gianna Sciullo (Georgetown) and SS Reagan Milliken (Ohio State) at the top of the order, with P Delaney Nagy (UConn) and C Sandra Soltes (Pitt) following right behind. There are no easy outs.

• Canon-McMillan – The Big Macs have a penchant for delivering clutch hits and are playing their best softball of the season at an opportune time. P Lauren Duke was dynamite against Hempfield and 1B Olivia Ulam carries a big bat in the middle of the lineup.

Championship factoids

• Bethel Park – The Black Hawks are hoping the fourth time is the charm. Bethel Park is 0-3 in WPIAL softball championship games after losing to North Hills 40 years ago in the 1981 AAA finals, falling to Montour six years later in the 1987 title game and seven years after that, losing to rival Baldwin in the 1994 championship game. The Black Hawks are trying to become the first team to win district gold with a perfect record in the highest class since Hempfield in 2017.

• Canon-McMillan – Near the start of this past decade, there was no better district softball program than the Big Macs. Canon-McMillan beat Hempfield, 4-1, to win the 2012 WPIAL championship, then the Big Macs successfully defended by beating North Allegheny, 5-2, in the 2013 finals. Their two-year reign ended when Canon-Mac lost to Shaler, 9-5, in the 2014 AAAA championship game.

Jonathan Bombulie is the TribLive assistant sports editor. A Greensburg native, he was a hockey reporter for two decades, covering the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for 17 seasons before joining the Trib in 2015 and covering the Penguins for four seasons, including Stanley Cup championships in 2016-17. He can be reached at jbombulie@triblive.com.

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