McKeesport softball gets No. 6 seed in Class AAA playoffs
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It would be an understatement to say McKeesport had one of the best softball seasons in school history.
Not only did the Tigers win the Section 2 title for the first time since 2010, they finished undefeated in their section for the first time.
With a 16-4 record and tying Peters Township for the third-best winning percentage (.800) of any Class AAAA school, McKeesport seemed to be a lock to garner one of the top four seeds Thursday when the WPIAL steering committee announced its playoff seedings.
“I'd like to see us in the top five, but you never know how the steering committee ranks everybody,” McKeesport coach Missy Conrad said. “I don't think we deserve a bye, but I think that, since we were the section champs, we deserve to be in the top five.”
Obviously, the WPIAL was a bit underwhelmed by what the Tigers accomplished. McKeesport heads into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed and will play No. 11 Baldwin (11-8) at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Fairhaven Park.
Defending WPIAL Class AAAA champion Canon-McMillan picked up the top seed, while Latrobe and North Allegheny finished out the top three seeds that received first-round byes in the 13-team field. Not much respect was given to Section 2 as runner-up Plum was slotted at No. 8, while third-place finishers Woodland Hills and Gateway were 12th and 13th, respectively.
Perhaps the biggest reason why McKeesport was seeded lower than a pair of section second-place finishers (Hempfield and Shaler) was because the team doesn't have the pedigree of those perennial title contenders. The Tigers never have won a Class AAAA playoff game.
“It just comes down to we have to win against whoever we play,” Conrad said. “The other three teams that won sections, they may have played a little bit tougher (schedules) than we did, but we definitely deserved top five.”
Elizabeth Forward (16-4) finished as co-champion with West Mifflin in Section 3, but despite an appearance in the 2012 WPIAL Class AAA championship game, the Warriors received the No. 4 seed and will be on the same side of the bracket as Greensburg Salem. If the seedings hold, it will set up a semifinal rematch. Last year, the fourth-seeded Golden Lions lost, 2-1, to the No. 12 Warriors at California (Pa.) University.
They will open the playoffs at 5 p.m. Thursday against New Castle (8-6) at Fairhaven.
West Mifflin (15-4), making its first appearance in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs since losing to Connellsville in the first round in 1998, garnered the No. 7 seed and will play a Mount Pleasant (11-9) team that lost its only two section games to Greensburg Salem. That game will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday at Hempfield.
Steel Valley (11-5) tied for second place in Section 4, but that wasn't enough to give the Ironmen a nod to move up in the Class AA bracket. They enter the tournament as the No. 11 seed and will take on Burrell (14-4) at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Gateway.
Serra Catholic (10-6) qualified for the Class A playoffs for the second consecutive season and received the No. 9 seed. The Eagles will play No. 8 Bishop Canevin at 3 p.m. Thursday at West Mifflin.
“I thought we might get a seven seed because of the strength of our section,” Serra Catholic coach Mike Elko said. “We just have to work on a couple things and ... I think we'll have a good chance in the playoffs, and I like our game with Bishop Canevin.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.
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