Westmoreland notebook: Record number of teams reach state finals
A record number of teams from Westmoreland County descended on Penn State on Thursday for the PIAA baseball and softball championships.
And the teams went 3 for 3. There were fire truck escorts ready to meet the champions late Thursday.
Latrobe baseball won its first PIAA title in its first finals trip (Class 5A), Mt. Pleasant (4A) won its first softball state final and Hempfield softball (6A) repeated after winning 4A last season.
The big day capped an impressive and memorable spring postseason.
Westmoreland made a commanding appearance in the WPIAL finals with Latrobe and Jeannette winning baseball titles — the first time multiple teams from the county won district titles — and Hempfield and Belle Vernon brought home softball titles, the third in a row for Hempfield.
Greensburg Central Catholic and Mt. Pleasant baseball, and Latrobe and Yough softball, finished as WPIAL runners-up.
The county has had two state champions in softball in consecutive years. Hempfield and Yough won last year.
The county had sent two teams to the PIAA finals before in the same spring season, but never three. In 2008, Burrell played for the Class 2A title in baseball, and Latrobe reached the 4A final in softball.
Local state softball titles belong to Hempfield (1999, Class AAA; 2016, AAAA), Valley (2011, AAA), and Yough (2016, AAA).
Greensburg Central (2002, Class A) has the county's only state baseball title.
Former Greensburg Central Catholic basketball standout Carolyn Appleby was recognized for a breakthrough sophomore season at IUP. She was named IUP Women's Postseason Performer of the Year. This is the first year for the award.
Appleby was the PSAC Tournament MVP as she led IUP to the conference title. She scored a career-high 30 points, plus six rebounds and five assists in an 84-79 win over defending champion Cal (Pa.).
She averaged 22.3 points and six assists in the PSAC Tournament.
Novak in ‘The Tournament'
Former Franklin Regional and Pitt-Johnstown basketball player Nick Novak, a professional in Europe, was selected to play in “The Tournament,” a charity event to fight pancreatic cancer Saturday through Aug. 3. Novak will play for Team Sideline Cancer out of Bradenton, Fla., and will play with Iowa's Anthony Clemons and Jarryd Cole, Arizona State's Jermaine Marshall, Illinois' Maverick Morgan and St. Joseph's Aaron Brown.
The 64-team, 5-on-5 single-elimination event will air on ESPN. The winner gets $2 million, $700,000 of which goes to the Griffith Family Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
Several area athletes were honored at the C. Harper Positive High School Athlete Awards on Tuesday. Former Steelers receiver Hines Ward recognized athletes representing 29 high schools with a total of $30,000 in scholarships.
Those honored included Hempfield swimmer Cole Stinebiser, Norwin field hockey player Magen Polczynski, Norwin track athlete Kayla Kolesar, Greensburg Salem hockey player Ryan Collette and Yough softball player Alona Sleith.
Ligonier Valley was recognized prominently by the Heritage Conference for the spring season. All-conference softball selections included Catherine Cmar and Lexie Petrof, and Garrett Cluster was picked for baseball.
Track and field selections (PIAA qualifiers) were, boys: Joe Tomosky, Nick Gongaware, Avery Arnone, Zach Beitel, Nathan Burns, Jackson Daugherty, Elliot Rost and Dylan Rummel; and girls: Sarah Markosky, Olivia Miller, Rachel Horrell, Theresa Schachte, Abby Frey, Issy Saloom and Molleigh Henderson.