West Mifflin softball looks forward to long postseason run

| Friday, May 9, 2014, 1:31 a.m.

West Mifflin softball coach Casey Phillips remembers the sweet feeling of winning a WPIAL championship. In 2001, Phillips was an assistant at Baldwin, which claimed the Class AAAA title.

He's getting a feel for it again as his fifth year winds down as coach at Class AAA West Mifflin.

“Our goals going into the season were to qualify for the playoffs, win the section outright and win a WPIAL championship,” Phillips said on Thursday after the WPIAL revealed its playoffs brackets. “We've done two of them.”

For two seasons in a row, as a matter of fact.

In the latest event, the Titans (16-2) were seeded third and will open against Mt. Pleasant in a first-round game for the second year in a row, this time facing the 14th-seeded Vikings (9-7) at 4 p.m. Thursday at Gateway.

Section 3-AAA champion West Mifflin, among eight teams from the Daily News region to qualify for the playoffs, reached the semifinals in 2013, losing to Ambridge, before falling to West Allegheny in the consolation round in a final chance to qualify for the PIAA playoffs.

Elizabeth Forward (12-6), the Section 3-AAA runner-up, was seeded seventh and will play 10th-seeded Highlands (7-4) at 2 p.m. Thursday at Hempfield. Thomas Jefferson (11-5) received the 12th seed and will face fifth-seeded Knoch (10-3) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny.

Phillips said West Mifflin's players are eager to exceed the performance of last season's highly successful team.

“We really came together as a team last year, and it's piggybacked to this year,” Phillips said. “We've got kids who've been around and aren't intimidated by lofty goals. Our section was so good. We've been in competitive situations all along. We're not going to hit the panic button.”

Right-hander Paige Flore is 15-2 with a 0.91 ERA and 153 strikeouts for West Mifflin. Alyssa Cairns leads the Titans with a .500 batting average.

Like Class AAA, there are three Class AAAA teams from the region to qualify for the postseason.

Norwin (12-3) was seeded seventh, McKeesport (13-5) was seeded eighth and Woodland Hills (8-6) was seeded 12th.

McKeesport received a so-so seeding, despite an 11-1 record in Section 2-AAAA, matching sixth-seeded Plum's mark. The Tigers will open the playoffs against ninth-seeded North Allegheny (15-4) at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Plum.

“We lost to them in the second round last year, so our girls will want revenge,” McKeesport coach Melissa Conrad said. “It's a good matchup. North Allegheny is a pretty solid team, but Shaler beat them twice this year, and we beat Shaler (Thursday). So that shows us we can compete with anybody in Quad-A.”

McKeesport handed second-seeded Shaler (13-3) a 2-1 setback on Thursday in the final regular-season game after dropping a 1-0 decision to West Mifflin a day earlier.

Norwin will play 10th-seeded Bethel Park (10-4) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at California (Pa.), while Woodland Hills will play fifth-seeded Latrobe (13-4) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Hempfield.

In Class AA, ninth-seeded Steel Valley (10-4) plays eighth-seeded Burrell (12-3) at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Plum, and 11th-seeded South Allegheny (8-4) meets fourth-seeded Seton-La Salle (10-2) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Baldwin.

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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