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Guido: Leechburg nearing official departure from WPIAL

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 1:01 a.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Deer Lakes pitcher Tiffany Edwards fields a ball that's hit back to the mound Monday, April 15, 2013, at Deer Lakes High School.

Leechburg looks to take the next step to join PIAA District 6 on Monday afternoon.

The District 6 board of directors will meet at 3:30 p.m. at Hollidaysburg High School, and the Leechburg issue will be on the agenda, according to board member David Crumrine, principal of Martinsburg Central High School.

While there's no such thing as a sure thing, District 6's approval for Leechburg might come close.

The final step would be PIAA approval at the statewide group's meeting May 22-23. That means by the time Blue Devils fans are set to observe the Memorial Day weekend, the Leechburg move could be complete.

The last time an Alle-Kiski Valley school left the WPIAL was Saltsburg football in 1970.

But Saltsburg had a good reason.

The Trojans were playing schools in the old AIC Class B at the time.

But Apollo and Elders Ridge merged. Verona and Oakmont were set to do likewise.

East Deer-Frazer was consolidated with West Deer to form Deer Lakes, and Sharpsburg was absorbed by Fox Chapel.

That left Saltsburg and Shannock Valley as the final teams remaining.

Shannock Valley soon moved to District 9 and Saltsburg cast its lot with District 6.

Saltsburg remained in the local WPIAL basketball section with the likes of Leechburg and St. Joseph for the remainder of the 1970s before moving its entire athletic operation to District 6.

In 1966, Saltsburg went 9-0-0 in football, but lacked sufficient Gardner Points to qualify for the WPIAL Class B title game, where Leechburg defeated Avella.

As for Monday's District 6 conclave, if the board were to deny Leechburg, that would leave the Heritage Conference with just nine teams, causing a scheduling headache for its members.

Playoffs are coming

The WPIAL softball playoff pairings will be disclosed Thursday afternoon, with the baseball pairings set for Friday.

It will be interesting to see how some A-K Valley teams are seeded.

Defending WPIAL Class AA softball champion Deer Lakes could be in line for a No. 1 seed.

Eight local teams have won WPIAL titles, all since 1991.

One thing is certain in softball — there will be a new Class A champion.

That's because Chartiers-Houston was advanced to Class AA under the biennial realignment.

Riverview could get a top four baseball seed — the Raiders have lost just twice.

The toughest field to seed has to be Class AAAA baseball. Plum clearly is one of the top teams, but Class AAAA is so loaded that Peters Township, regarded as one of the WPIAL's top programs, didn't make the playoffs.

Opening-round games are set for Monday.

WPIAL soccer home

The WPIAL announced last week that this year's soccer finals will be held at new Highmark Stadium on Pittsburgh's South Side, adjacent to Station Square.

Teams from all three classifications, boys and girls, will be on the pitch.

Two games will be played Nov. 1, and the other four will take place Nov. 2.

The Friday games will conflict with the opening round of the WPIAL football playoffs, so perhaps the WPIAL might schedule four soccer schools whose football teams aren't in the playoffs.

Highmark Stadium seats 3,500 and has an excellent view of Downtown Pittsburgh.

George Guido is a freelance writer. His scholastic column appears Wednesdays.

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