WPIAL softball tournament preview
WPIAL softball tournament
No. 12 seed Freeport (10-4) vs. No. 5 Waynesburg Central (12-8)
2 p.m. Tuesday at Hempfield
Winner plays: No. 4 Keystone Oaks (11-4)/No. 13 Laurel (8-6) winner.
Extra bases: Freeport, a sneaky-good third-place team from Section 3, has reached the quarterfinals in three of the past four seasons but fell 9-1 to Greensburg Central Catholic in the first round last season. The Yellowjackets started 0-3 but proceeded to win 10 of 11. Junior Jess Kelley (.481), freshman Morgan McCarthy (.521) and junior Karlie Hill (.440) all have driven in 21 runs. Of McCarthy's 25 hits, 15 have gone for extra bases. ... Section 2 champion Waynesburg won six of its final seven to get into the playoffs. Junior shortstop Hannah Gibbons leads the Raiders with a .660 batting average (33 for 50) and has three homers and 25 RBIs. Sophomore second baseman Tiffany Ross also has driven in 25.
No. 8 Burrell (12-3) vs. No. 9 Steel Valley (10-4)
3 p.m. Tuesday at Plum
Winner plays: No. 1 Beaver (13-0)
Extra bases: Burrell has made the playoffs nine straight seasons, and that run includes a WPIAL championship in 2011. The quietly effective Bucs will get a first-round rematch with Steel Valley, which edged them 2-1 last season at Gateway. Burrell gambled with one out in the seventh when it attempted a squeeze play. Pinch runner Brittney Wolford was sent home after a pitch trickled away from Steel Valley catcher Chelsea Rohan. But Rohan recovered within the small backstop area and flipped to pitcher Maddie Cotter to tag out Wolford, and Burrell couldn't recover. ... Steel Valley's win over Burrell was its first in the playoffs since 2006. Cotter and Rohan make a durable battery. Just a sophomore, Cotter has more than 60 strikeouts.
No. 2 Deer Lakes (15-0) vs. No. 15 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (9-5)
4 p.m. Tuesday at Baldwin
Winner plays: No. 7 Charleroi (11-3)/No. 10 McGuffey (13-3) winner.
Extra bases: Deer Lakes has developed into a perennial power, winning the WPIAL title in 2012 and finishing as runner-up last season. It was the No. 3 seed when it won the championship. The Lancers, who scored 10 or more runs 11 times, have done a commendable job replacing several key starters, with a number of underclassmen contributing. There is only one senior on the team, but a valuable one: first baseman Sierra Sarver. Deer Lakes, which has won 29 straight section games, has hit 17 home runs. ... OLSH, the third-place team from Section 1, has lost in the first round the past two seasons. Senior pitcher Emily Duerr is a four-year starter and one of the top players in Class AA.
No. 6 seed Plum (15-3) vs. No. 11 Baldwin (11-6)
5 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny
Winner plays: No. 3 Penn-Trafford (14-3)
Extra bases: Section 2 co-champion Plum has never won a playoff game. The Mustangs have appeared in the WPIAL postseason the past five years but have struggled offensively and lost four straight games by seven or more runs. Senior Jordan Seneca is the leading hitter in the Alle-Kiski Valley with an eye-popping .714 average, nine homers, 37 RBIs and 37 runs. She has more than 100 career RBIs. Sophomore Hannah Adamski has 12 home runs and 29 RBIs. Pitcher Rachael Adamski is 11-2. ... Baldwin enters the postseason having lost four of its final five regular-season games. The Highlanders are one of the youngest teams in the Class AAA bracket, with nine sophomores on the roster.
No. 4 Knoch (10-3) vs. No. 13 Thomas Jefferson (11-5)
7 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny
Winner plays: No. 5 Trinity (15-2)/No. 12 Uniontown (10-6) winner.
Extra bases: Knoch captured the Section 5 title, its first since 2008. A tiebreaker knocked the Knights from the playoffs last season after they finished in a four-way tie in the section. A four-senior group is the team's foundation: catcher Abbi Smithmyer, shortstop Bethany Hay, pitcher Courtney Reed and utility player Schaely Renfrew. Knoch coach Tim Knappenberger and Thomas Jefferson coach Heidi Karcher are friends. Their daughters have played travel softball together. Knoch won its only night game this season. ... Thomas Jefferson has used a three-pitcher rotation, with sophomore Lacie Lautner and freshman Alysa Fairman seeing most of the time and senior Janelle Allison working in relief. Karcher is in her first season after replacing longtime coach Hoppy Mitruski, who retired after 35 years.